Yesterday’s Megavalanche was a 30 km battle. The 2500m descent from the glacial summit of Pic Blanc was never going to be easy but few would have foreseen the intense battling between Dan and Remy Absalon that lasted for almost the entire race until the French rider eventually pulled clear on the final climb.
Dan admitted that he had seldom been so nervous in a race. He had qualified first overall earning him pole position at the start. That start required a 5am alarm call for the trip to the top of the glacier and it wasn’t only Dan who suffered a fitful nights sleep!
Conditions were cold but perfect with a lot more snow coverage than in previous years with the snow up top frozen at the surface for a really fast ride down – riders were reaching speeds of up to 60mph!
Dan made a clean hole-shot but at the end of the glacier a poor choice of line led him to crash, losing his initial advantage and letting about five riders through. With the determination and force that he’s famous for he quickly clawed his way back up through the first three riders but Absalon was a tougher nut to crack. So ensued an unprecedented trial of sheer nerve, fitness and skill to which both riders gave their all.
Dan said “Thanks to all the Brits who were supporting me, there were even more guys than last year, way up the mountain. It makes a huge difference hearing everybody yelling for you.”
Dan and Remy swapped places several times as they pulled away from the rest of the field, but Jerome Clementz was pulling away from them. Down precariously narrow parts of the trail where it skirted the mountain, across the meadows they constantly reeled each other in as the terrain varied to suit each of their strengths in turn. By the start of the long climb Absalon was about 1 bike length a head and he used his legendary Enduro fitness to stretch that lead. With the Downhill sections still to come on the run into Allemont it was still not a done deal but in the end Dan just couldn’t catch him.
Dan said “ That was such a battle. Congratulations to Remy and to Jerome – and to everybody else who fought their way to the finish!”
1st Jerome Clementz 38.42.85
2nd Remy Absalon 39.17.15 +34 secs
3rd Dan Atherton 40.09.42 +1.26
4th Lukas Anrig 41.03.49 +2.20
5th Nicolas Quere 41.07.3 +2.24
All photos: Sven Martin