Cycling: The Strive Diaries #3 takes us to Valloire for the third race of the Enduro World Series. Ines Thoma and Joe Barnes from the Canyon Factory Team drove a solid race with two top 10 results.
The third race, a new country, another home: while Joe Barnes clearly had the home advantage at the last stop of the Enduro World Series (EWS) in Scotland, a home race was on the agenda again last weekend. France is and remains the spiritual homeland of enduro with a multitude of riders and races. The spot in Valloire at the foot of the famous Galibier Pass has had a permanent place on the racing calendar for almost 10 years and is finally part of the Enduro World Series this year as the French benchmark - absolutely deserved, as it later turned out to be.
From slippery sand in Chile to muddy roots in Scotland, the third EWS round in France led to lift-assisted, high-speed, high-speed banging in the Alps, paired with absolutely dramatic terrain in the technical passages. Added to this is the difficulty of the French format itself. The trails are top secret until the Thursday evening before the race and can then be visited on foot on Fridays. But if you want to give the full 100% on the day of the race, you can't even think about running out extensively. A fine line between trail knowledge and tired legs, especially since the lift support is only available with the start of the official race.
On the day of the race itself, the riders can then complete a training run, closely followed by the first timed chrono run on the same stage. When a stage is up to 20 minutes long, concentration is doubled - remembering every single stone is a real challenge.
Ines Thoma after the first training run:
“High alpine, brutally steep and rocky switchbacks right at the beginning and then a really fast section where it just goes over a meadow, but with nasty fat stones left and right. That's pretty tricky for the head. My motto was: just let it go!”
Brutal was a good keyword here. With the first race run, falls, flat tires and other technical defects followed every minute. The goal was clear: rider and bike have to reach the finish line safely. Because such a French Enduro race with six stages for a time is damn long. Luckily our riders Ines, Joe and Ludo May chose their lines wisely and cleanly and were spared the defect devil.
The Canyon Crew mechanics give the bikes a perfect service during the night from Saturday to Sunday, but unfortunately, even with fresh material, falls could not be avoided.
After a completely crash-free Saturday, Ines hit a rock field in the first race run on Sunday morning and was no longer able to defend her good starting position. It was one of those days when nothing really comes together. Joe and Ludo quickly found their rhythm and brought good runs into the valley. They had given their all and as a reward everyone could look forward to another top ten result with 10th place for Joe and 16th place for Ludo.
Joe's summary of the race:
“The round in France was peppered with many surprises. The stages are set differently, the format is different from other places and so is the racing itself. All the surprises weren't a problem and I had a lot of fun facing them. I felt like I was getting faster and faster throughout the weekend. I am very happy about the 10th place.”
After the French hell ride, there is now a short breather to cure the tired bones and the notorious arm pump. In three weeks' time we'll be off to the next challenge in La Thuile, Italy. The fourth round of the Enduro World Series is coming up... - we are excited to see what the Italians have in store for us.