After a stellar start in Punta Ala, Italy, Enduro World Series’ quest for the most versatile all-round mountain bike athlete in the world continues, moving to Val D’Allos, France, the birthplace of enduro mountain bike racing.
300 riders will tackle the five-stage course, with reigning French Series champions Jerome Clementz and Tracy Moseley battling for supremacy against Punta Ala winner Fabien Barel and other titans from all disciplines of biking, including Dan Atherton, Aussie BMX champ Jared Graves, Belgian wunderkind Martin Maes, Nico Vouilloz, Steve Peat, Curtis Keene, Remy Absalon, Nico Lau, Cam Cole, Justin Leov and René Wildhaber, and Pauline Dieffenthaler and Hannah Barnes amongst the 30-strong women's competition.
Taking place at the source of the Verdon River, near Mercantour National Park, the Val d'Allos course will travel the alpine pastures and forests of the Southern Alps, a world apart from from the scene of St Tropez and the French Riviera, despite being just a 2 hours drive away.
Taking advantage of two of the Val d’Allos – Le Seignus resort's chairlifts means that the start of each liaison will be accessed primarily from the lifts, but with an untimed first lap for each stage offering a kind of live practice. In combination with the second timed lap, riders will total 10,000 metres of cumulative vertical drop and more than an hour of cumulative race time.
The course will not be revealed until race weekend, with the resort's bike park closed through the week, ensuring no practice runs can be taken, apart from a course walk the day before the race.
The blind approach conforms with enduro racing as it originated in Val d'Allos a decade ago. "Having to find the best line in the heat of the moment is the original spirit of enduro," says Fred Glo, founder of Tribe Sport Group and president of Tribe Events, and the originator of enduro mountain bike racing. "It's a different kind of riding if you know the track perfectly."
Glo's "raw" version of enduro racing was inspired by the original motorbike format that the concept was adapted from. In creating the event, he simply created his dream format for the race he would want to ride in order to come away sated on top-quality trails and fun.
Former women's downhill world champion and EMBA Advisory Board member, Tracy Moseley, who won the first race at Punta Ala, and goes into this race as the women's favorite, says that blind approach is "the purest way of showing who's got the best bike-handling skills. When there is so little you can do to prepare for a trail, you really have to rely on instinct and your natural ability."
The first Tribe 10,000 Enduro in 2003 quickly became an annual fixture allowing riders to test technical and physical skill. Over the past decade, the Val d'Allos men's race has only been won by five racers: Karim Amour, Willy Balaud, Alex Balaud, Remy Absalon and Jerome Clémentz.
Founder Fred Glo says the combination of a 10,000 meter goal, plus fun riding on spectacular trails and the challenge to finish in good shape were the ingredients that made the race such a success back in 2003, and they are still the elements that make enduro mountain bike racing appealing today.
The format that Glo pioneered spread across France at other resorts, inspired the Italian SuperEnduro adaptation, and in 2011 became a national series, the first FFC Enduro French Cup.
"We all started to ride mountain bikes because we love to go down, have fun and enjoy a challenge. Our first and main focus, still, is to offer the best riding experience possible on the best trails," says Glo.
A decade later, Val d'Allos, the birthplace of enduro mountain bike racing, hosts the second of a seven-stop, global series that aims to unite the discipline to create the best rider experience possible and to crown a single world champion – a success story best defined, as Glo says, "by amateurs and pros, winners and losers all sharing the same smile Sunday evening."