Fresh from the battle that was Enduro World Series Round 2 at Val d’Allos, Dan and Martin have travelled to Alpe d’Huez, Dan will be racing the Megavalanche – possibly the most brutal race in the Enduro calendar, but Martin has decided to rest and concentrate on training for the next round of EWS.
Last year Dan claimed third here (the only non-French rider to podium) and promised his British supporters that he wouldn’t be happy until he’d taken the win. He’s stronger, fitter and more experienced in the format but will it be enough against Enduro’s most seasoned competitors?
Dan enjoyed a day in the sun today taking first in his heat and first overall – despite going over the bars twice! The Force performed perfectly and Dan is looking forward to Sunday - though he’s careful to stress that there’s a long way to go between Qualifying first and taking the Race win. Good luck!!
Riders: Dan Atherton
Mechanics: Matteo Nati
Bikes: Dan will be riding his GT Force.
Friday’s qualifying track runs from Domes de Rousse at 2810m down to Huez at 1500m, it’s likely to suit both Dan’s and Martin’s strengths with plenty of technical sections, rocks and turns. Last year Dan grabbed 1st in his heat, qualifying second overall to Nico Vouilloz, which was vital as it gave him an excellent choice of starting position.
As last year, the Mega Avalanche Race Day course runs 30km from the glacial summit of Pic Blanc at 3300m down to the meadows of Allemont at 720m. Expected race times are 41 minutes plus (Remy Absalon won with 41.19.49 last year) So it’s gruelling as well as technically challenging.
Dan said “Conditions last year were perfect – the snow was really hard –packed, the only problem was these massive rocks sticking out of it! This must be one of the most dangerous races I’ve done – with 30 riders on the front row trying to get through a 3-4m gap.”
It’s going to be hot (up to 29 degrees in the valley on Friday and 30 degrees on Saturday) with rainstorms forecast for Friday’s qualifiers.
Last year it was the climbs that allowed the more established Enduro riders to overtake Dan – on the first climb Remy Absalon of France passed and then on the second Nicolas Lau also overtook. Dan seems to have shaken the debilitating cold that slowed him on the long first section at Val d’Alos and will be looking to demonstrate his increased fitness to settle some scores.
Current situation – team perspectives
Dan: “I like the terrain here and I’m looking forward to the race, it’ll be good to see if all that winter training can bring a result. Let’s hope that we can both qualify well to grab those all important start positions for Sunday.”