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Slideshow: Race Prep, Enduro World Series, Val d'Allos

<b>Meet Fred Glo. He pretty much single-handedly invented what we call enduro racing today. 10 years of enduro racing here in Val d'Allos and the second stop of the Enduro World Series.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>With some downhill stages taking 15 minutes for the fastest men, Fred knew marking five courses by foot wasn't really an option.</b> -Lee Trumpore

<b>Chris Ball, Stage 4 during the media recon mission this morning. Racers get two timed runs on Stage 4 that count toward the overall. Stage 4 is also the most demanding stage.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>This is the first corner of the Stage 1. The riders aren't allowed to see it until race day, but that didn't stop us from poaching fresh tracks. Sven only made me walk back up once to get the shot.</b> -Lee Trumpore

<b>Chris Ball in Instagram Alley on Stage 4. Simply stunning. It will be interesting to see how times improve down the second run of Stage 4 on Sunday.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Enrico applying the stickers. If he doesn't label your bike, you're SOL as he explains in the audio.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The crucial parts of each racer's bike is identified with stickers. If any of the stickered parts break, the rider may ask permission to change the part. If granted, that rider receives a 5-minute time penalty.</b> -Sven Martin and Lee Trumpore

<b>Rene Wildhaber, not a bad choice with his Trek Slash.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Nearby Col du Champs with Jerome Clementz on an old Trans Provence stage. The riding around here sure puts equipment to the test.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Curtis Keene and Ben Cruz discuss the pros and cons of 26 vs 29r wheels or Keene describes the size of the last sub sandwich he ate. We're not sure.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Lars Sternberg is here fresh off a 4th place finish at the Super Enduro in Madesimo, Italy. He has his big-boy bike for some proper big-boy riding this weekend.</b> -Lee Trumpore

<b>The Hof is a machine. He drove 5 hours from Berlin to pick me up at a pub in Munich at 1:30am and continued on to Val d'Allos 16 hours later. No sleep, no food, and straight to a 3 hour ride. </b> -Lee Trumpore

<b>Justin Leov and Jamie Nicoll from New Zealand both skipped round one of the EWS in Punta Ala but are here in force this weekend. Leov is on the Remedy 29, too.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>This is about as close to practice as anyone was getting. Minnaar with the spirit of enduro in the audio.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Peaty totally helping out in the audio.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>This would have been a sweet Vine video...if anyone actually used Vine.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Being a cycling journalist abroad is all about self-sufficiency. Sometimes that means borrowing a lawn chair and taking your mobile office to the back of a 90-degree, windowless box van. It's going to take me weeks of baguettes to gain back the weight I lost on the drive from Val di Sole.</b> -Lee Trumpore

<b>A break between races also allows time for riding places the World Cup circus doesn't hit anymore. Just in case you were wondering, the woods below the Schladming step-up are still there and still #betterthanLeogang</b> -Lee Trumpore

<b>(Dan Atherton in audio) Stage 4. You hit this meadow at about 40 MPH on a 6-inch wide skinny, dirt single track. Looks pretty, but it is hair-raising!</b> -Sven Martin

<b>(Dan Atherton in audio) The course map and 30,000 feet of descending await the racers starting in a few hours.</b>

<b>Uber legend and 10-time DH World Champ, Nico Vouilloz is running a Jerome Clementz handlebar so he can feel the spirit of enduro, ha. When Jerome was a kid, he had a Nico poster that he updated everytime the Alien won a World Champ. Talk about history and handlebars. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Viva la France. Jerome and Nico with a great story...</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Rene WIldhaber is only tech where it counts. Old school and awesome.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Rene Wildhaber has chosen to remain on 26-inch wheels with his Trek Slash this weekend.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Rob Parkin admires the view from the top of chairlift number 2 while scoping angles for Dirt TV.</b> -Lee Trumpore

<b>Sven and EWS director, Chris Ball relive their glory days while planning a rematch of their Trans-Provence and Industry Cup battle.</b> -Lee Trumpore

<b>The spirit of enduro? Quite possibly. Stay tuned for more photos and action from Val d'Allos, France!</b> -Sven Martin and Lee Trumpore

The second stop of the new Enduro World Series takes place this weekend at the French ski resort of Val d'Allos. The opening round in Punta Ala, Italy featured lower-elevation terrain near the Mediterranean sea, so the change to the high alpine environment shows the diversity of venues in the EWS.

The event in Val d'Allos features the use of chairlifts to get riders to the stage starts. This is different than the Punta Ala event, which was a pedal-powered effort. Use of chairlifts is NOT unusual in the European enduro discipline.

As long as riders can make their start times, they may perform maintenance or acquire food and hydration from sources at the top or bottom of the lift, meaning many riders will not be carrying packs with them. French cycling rules are enforced which means back and elbow protection are required for all competitors.

The course map in the slideshow above was just issued by the race promoters and the trails were closed for any pre-race riding or practice. Sven Martin reports that some riders tried to walk the stages for inspection (which was allowed), but quickly realized the amount of terrain made it impossible to get any real walking inspections done. As a matter of safety, on race day, all riders are required to take a strictly monitored, no-stopping inspection run down each course, so major hazards and features can be identified. Riders will then return to the start for their timed stage runs.

Stage 1 features nearly 3200 vertical feet of descending while Stages 2-5 feature nearly 2800 feet each. Stage 4 is unique in that it will be run twice, for a total of six timed stages and Sven says this particular trail ranks as one his top 10 all-time rides. When the 6 timed stages and 5 inspection stages are added up, racers will descend approximately 30,000 vertical feet over the span of the 2-day race. Saturday features Stages 1 through 3 while Sunday features Stage 4 (run twice) and Stage 5.

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