Absalon Wins 2012 Megavalanche

Crap luck takes its toll on other big-name riders

By Vernon Felton

For the second year in a row, Remy Absalon piloted his Commencal to victory in one of the most trying races on the planet. Megavalanche has been punishing riders for a decade now. The recipe for pain is straightforward: join a couple hundred racers on a glacier atop Pic Blanc, pin the throttle wide open as you negotiate a black diamond ski run at breakneck speeds amidst the carnage of crashing Euros, then do your best not to blow a tire or break yourself in half as you barrel through the scree fields. If you’re still in the race at this point, there’s a fair bit of tight and technical singletrack to negotiate.

Here’s a short video from the perspective of Cube Action Team rider, Valérie Schandene-Priem. On a side note, is it possible to start a race in Europe without a loud blast of techno music? I get the feeling it’s mandatory.

All told, you’re looking at about 8,000 feet of descending and 30 kilometers worth of “Oh, crap!” white knuckle riding. It’s a race that demands both World Cup-level XC fitness and downhill skills. Few riders possess that kind of talent mix, which is why Enduro riders are, arguably, the most complete mountain bike racers around. Still, luck and fortune also play a key role in determining who wins this race. To that end, Nico Vouilloz had a nearly insurmountable 40-second lead on everyone else for a big chunk of the race until he lost a tire.

Here’s a clip of one of Vouilloz’ qualifying runs earlier this week. Marvel at how fast and smooth “the alien” still is after all these years. Side note number two: who’d have thought that a chainsaw would replace the cowbell as the go-to noisemaker for race spectators?

Remy Absalon took first in this year’s Mega with a winning time of just 41 minutes and 19 seconds. Second place rider, Nicolas Lau, crossed the line forty seconds later. Dan Atherton managed a very impressive third place in his first attempt at the race and helped prove, once again, that his family possesses some crazy good genes for anything involving speed and danger.

The rest of the top 20 was populated by a who’s-who of famous all-rounder types, including Jerome Clementz (6th place), Adam Craig (16th place) and Ross Schnell (18th place). Check out the complete results here.