An exciting and certainly eventful weekend of racing from Val d’Allos resulted in some very different results to Punta Ala’s Round 1 event with many of the top riders suffering punctures and mechanicals and the test of riding tracks “blind” causing many mistakes and crashes from even the very best and most experienced set of riders in the world.
At Val D’Allos each stage was ridden once as a ‘sighting run’ then as a race run. (except stage 4 that was raced twice). No practice was allowed in the run up to the event. After each stage riders could return to the pits for a limited period to deal with punctures or mechanicals.
Stage One started well for Dan with 11th place, he tends to start the stages steadily and get faster as the day progresses so a solid stage 1 result was positive.
Martin came in with real confidence but a Stage 1 crash held him back, luckily he composed himself well for Stage 2 and put in a great time to grab 14th place, this time Dan crashed but even so he managed to place 24th, proving that he was definitely on the pace.
But in Stage 3, as many commentators have written “All hell broke loose.” Top riders Josh Bryceland, Jeremy Clementz, (Punta Ala winner) Fabian Barel and Dan all puncturing.
Martin made some mistakes but had good speed and ended Saturday as top junior.
Saturday’s results served as Seeding for Sunday’s runs so Dan started well back in the field. He struggled to overtake some of the slower riders but posted a solid result nevertheless – all the more remarkable given that the team were now struggling with logistics, Martin had punctured on Stage 4 practice and the riders split start times meant that mechanic Matteo was pulled in different directions.
Stage 5 was the second running of Stage 4 and Dan showed what he could do with a clearer track – only 10 seconds back from 1st place over 15mins gained him 7th place for the stage and lifted team spirits.
In the final stage (Stage 6) both riders were a little down from where they expected to be (Dan in 16th and Martin 12th) but it was still enough for Martin to take the top junior win!
Dan said “I knew that Val d’Allos was going to be the tough one of the year. The format is that we had one run of practice before each race run and for me that’s just not enough. There are guys out there who are really good at riding blind but it’s tough for me. The tracks were amazing all weekend and I actually really enjoyed the riding but it’s a tough event. Time to move on and prep for Les Deux Alpes with Martin.”
1st VOUILLOZ Nicolas 1h 05:11.109
2nd GRAVES Jared +6.420
3rd MINNAAR Greg + 23.534
4th WILDHABER René + 36.707
5th ABSALON Rémy + 49.974
1st Martin Maes + 1h 08:47:69
Photos: Sven Martin