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.