Megavalanche - Men's Final Results and Photos

Jul 14, 2013
by Alasdair MacLennan  
 
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Starting from the top of the Pic Blanc before running down on to the glacier, conditions were all time prime this morning, and the racing was as exciting, as brutal, and as challenging as ever. Anyone who can take victory on this 20+km course definitely earns their spoils!

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  Seeing your alarm show that it'll be going off at 5am is never nice. Sleep the night before the Mega can be a fitful affair, nerves playing on your mind intertwined with adrenaline, overthinking things, and the early alarm call just adds to the ill-prepared feeling that can plague you come Sunday morning. 'How's the snow going to go?', 'How icy is it going to be?' and, perhaps the most critical; 'Is anyone going to take me out?'. Bleary eyed, you're on the first cablecar not long after 6am, and on the second not long after for the remainder of your 1500m ascent to the summit. Only two hours to wait until for the music to kick off, the tape to lift, and for all hell to break loose. Two short hours for apprehension to increase, and your stomach to tie itself in knots.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  The helicopter is always a sign that the start is not far away and this year was no exception, breaking the calm before the storm and beginning the countdown to destruction. Little did we know from the start line was that Hoshi Yoshida was there to capture the moment from within its canopy.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
'Ligne A S'il vous plaît'...'Ligne B S'il vous plaît'. It takes a fair bit of time to get everyone lined up correctly based on their qualifying positions. This gives riders the time and opportunity to admire the breathtaking views as the mists rise from valleys to leave grass on the opposing mountainsides looking like green velvet. The peaks lose their island status as the clouds lift too and become one with the rest of the Alps once again. In the rather less dramatic race build up, riders also realise that the snow may not be quite as bad as had been feared, and in fact on the roll down to the start, could even be described as grippy.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  Without the usual bottleneck of the piste signpost to navigate, and a 100% snow start rather than the 50/50 rock & snow of recent years, this years start went off without a repeat of 2012's carnage caused by Rene Wildhaber getting out of control. Seeing a skier alongside you is more than a little odd, although not off putting as your brain quickly refocuses on the task in hand. That is if it ever left the task in the first place. Clean and clinical this may look, but it's anything but as riders aero tuck, deal with the ruts in the now frozen surface on the snow, and generally try to avoid contact with anyone else around them. Easier said than done, especially with a strong camber which fights to pull all riders to the same point.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  And then comes the first corner. The first riders may be away cleanly, but behind them the first riders are already beginning to get out of shape as riders and bikes part company. Even first place gets in on the sliding with a neatly controlled drift...

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  ...which unfortunately didn't stay controlled, and ended up with a rider-meets-snow scenario, allowing Clementz to capitalize, and both Atherton and Absalon through to fight a battle for second place which would continue nearly to the end.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  For those riders who made it beyond the first corner, 40mph and burning brakes soon met them. This next steep piste was definitely faster with feet up and no brakes. But that required balls, big balls, and not every rider quite made the leap to realizing that this was the ticket to a good few passing moves on fellow riders. Unfortunately, this increased speed just meant that when you did hit the deck, whether of your own volition or via contact with other riders, you hit the deck hard. Soft and fluffy powder this is not. If you ever wondered the effect falling on this stuff has on your skin, wonder no more. Think somewhere between cheesegrater and first degree burns. Lovely.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  But of course not everyone got their feet up, and there was plenty of tripoding going on too. Stay out the big ruts, hang loose, and hope for the best. The smell of hot brakes that hung in the air at the end of this straight was intense, the acrid burnt smell hitting your nostrils hard. 160mm rotors just aren't designed to slow bikes from near 60mph speeds!

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  Unless you were running XX1, or had the legs to turn a big ring, the end of the glacier was all about the aero tuck. Here Maxi Dickerhoff uses it to maximum advantage over the opposition.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  In the shade the snow remains hard, and mostly icy. Luckily the sun had just about crept its way onto the majority of the pistes by the time racing started.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  The end of the snow in sight should mean riders could breathe easily, but alas this was seldom the case. Plenty of crashes were still happening as the sun had been on this snow the longest. Of course, riders could also see how close they were to the singletrack, which renewed efforts to get past that 'one last rider' before things narrowed and opportunities reduced.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  Ruts, ruts and more ruts. Even after you came off the glacier there was still plenty of snow to negotiate, as Jerome Clementz shows. Most ruts had a deep and narrow line for wheels, matched either left or right with a shallower and wider one for a foot. It would be too easy if they were straight and smooth.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  If you were in the top 100 going into this you maybe stood a chance of being able to ride it. After that it became a procession of riders taking their bikes for a walk. And when it got to that stage, you were best hiking your way over the top, and in doing so overtaking a good number of riders. And yes, that main rut is bar deep, and the secondary one was deep enough that the ridge between the two was scraping your inner thigh.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  This is the perfect indicator of why the snow is so critical. Bottlenecks and traffic jams conspired to ruin many a riders race. But, loathe that aspect of the Mega or not, it is part of the race and you accept it. Not that that prevents the frustration creeping in as you drag your brakes down a piece of trail you know full well you could hit brakeless, were it not of course for the twenty riders ahead of you.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  It isn't in many races that you will ride through the downdraft of a helicopters rotor blades and consider it normal, but then the Megavalanche is not a normal race.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  One last patch of snow meant that the spray hitting your goggles was almost over, so what better place for Iago Garay to rip a tear-off before heading down towards Alpe d'Huez and the increasingly dusty trails?

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  This trail cut into the side of the mountain has been widened over previous years but it still feels precariously narrow when flat out, with tiring arms and hands, and in the cloud of dust given off by the riders in front.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  Chasing the sun. This early in the morning, the western face of the mountain takes a while to come into light and crisp shadows are the result. It brings into sharp relief how early it is in the day, despite having been up for nearly five hours. Jerome Clementz rides the knife edge of light and dark along the traverse above the town.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  It's amazing how far up the hill the crowds are willing to venture. Sure, they go to see the top guys, but the amount of support they give to everyone is unreal and all part of the appeal. Here Absalon chases down Affy; utmost fitness vs brute force.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  Across the meadows to the road climb the battle for second was like cat and mouse, the hunter becoming the hunted as quickly as they had asserted their position in front.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  By the road climb Absalon was ahead, but not by much as the nervous glance back to see a hard charging Affy confirms. The Frenchman was definitely in his element here but with the long descent to Allemont not far away, and just a few short and sharp climbs to deal with en route, the result was by no means cut and dried.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  Meanwhile Jerome, oblivious to the battle going on behind, begins the descent; first to Oz en Oisans, and then to Allemont for the finish line. Things can still happen, as the attrition rate of riders with broken bikes littering the side of the course would confirm, but would the Frenchman avoid such a problem?

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  In the turns Dan is a monster and was fighting hard to claw back the time lost to Absalon on the climb but would it be enough?

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  Fast leads to technical, and a little duck to get under the fencing. How many Go-Pro's were clouted on the metalwork this week?

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  And the victor; one Jerome Clementz, one of the original enduro athletes, and one of, if not the dominant force to be reckoned with on events like this.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  Number one board congratulates the number one rider on the day. Remy Absalon and Jerome Clementz.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  Meanwhile, with second having been sewn up by Remy, third place was for Dan, and for whom the finishing line couldn't have come soon enough. There's a big difference between the short World Enduro style events and these longer endurance style events. So while Dan is clearly talented, and it's only a matter of time before he gets a win under his belt, there's still a noticeable gap to the Frenchmen currently at the forefront of the result sheets.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  The finish line is for stories, good and bad, tales of the race and talk of what happened on the snow. American Ben Cruz came in to 21st place and here gets the gen from Jerome on where the Frenchman's five minute lead over him came from.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  Nicolas Quere and Nico Lau. Commencal vs. Cube; 26-inch vs 27.5-inch. Fifth and sixth places taken. Stories came back from the lead pack of a huge moment Quere had on the glacier, missing the piste and launching the bike for 30 feet over the rotten black snow to the side. He was lucky to hold it but hold it he did and 5th is an amazing result for him.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  It's a bike breaker, even for those who finish well. No matter how much your legs hurt, the alternative here is worse.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  No brake...

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  ...10th gear only for the climbs...

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  ...or no chain from the snow down. Which would you prefer?

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  And of course there were punctures aplenty too. Ludo May had taken an early lead before a puncture ripped away any chance of victory.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  Casey Coffman crossed the line way down the order and with a broken nose to show for it. The American admitted that riding the bottom half of the track unpracticed for the race was a bad move. It's not just a bike breaker.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  Trek's Justin Leov took it steady on the snow and suffered for it; 22nd place was all he could manage to cross the line in.

Megavalanche 2013 Finals Hoshi Yoshida
  The Mens A Final podium. 1st, Jerome Clementz. 2nd, Remy Absalon. 3rd, Dan Atherton. 4th, Lukas Anrig. 5th, Nicolas Quere.


All images courtesy of Hoshi Yoshida.

56 Comments

  • + 48
 Somebody beat an Atherton? Unconceivable!!!!
  • + 96
 inconceivable?
  • + 17
 Considering Clementz was riding, i'm not surprised, jerome is an absolute machine, both him and Remy Absalon are thorough-bred enduro riders. But yeh only a matter of time before Affy wins mega.
  • + 2
 I thought you said AGGY, ha ha ha
  • + 3
 www.i-mtb.com/megavalanche-2013-race he needed to heat his brakes more... it got me thinking do Canadians have to heat their bikes before they go for a ride?
  • + 5
 Nice One Industries D3 carbon there
  • + 2
 think the whole podium was running D3s... they're a sick helmet after all, pretty stoked on atherton, quere and clementz as well!
  • + 2
 I saw at least two Giro Remedy, one took 2nd and the other took 5th.
  • + 1
 yeah I'm just too used to seeing quere in a d3
  • + 1
 Giro Remedys for Remy and Nico Quere. But yes, Affy was running a D3
  • + 1
 Depends who the sponsors are anyway, i think this is either the second or third year the athertons have been with GT and been sponsored by one industries. I think the understated bluegrass kit Clementz wears is pretty awesome, the knee pads are immensely comfortable (more so than kyle strait 661's) imo.
  • + 1
 I'm wondering where's Atherton's team mate? ... I was surprised not to see him at EWS ... Is he still racing??
  • + 1
 Maes sat it out this weekend, heard it from someone else though so I don't know why
[Reply]
  • + 32
 and another win by 26" in the endure scene.

LONG LIVE THE 26" WHEEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • + 2
 yeah if a 27.5 had won pinkbike would be all over it!
[Reply]
  • + 11
 Jerome is running 26" wheels?
[Reply]
  • + 5
 That race is the definition of MTB= suffering + fun. Looks like a great race, congrats Jerome, but especially congrats to all the poor bastards who gunned out a Megavalanche final race with no brake, chain, shifter, or saddle!! Way to take it like men, you guys deserve a medal and a cold beer!
[Reply]
  • + 4
 "Unless you were running XX1, or had the legs to turn a big ring, the end of the glacier was all about the aero tuck."
I'm pretty sure that comment was sponsored by SRAM. Didn't know that only XX1 could get you down the mountain. Your bombing a steep mountain, I think XTR 2x10 would work just fine. Besides their going so fast they could easily spin the biggest rings available.
  • + 2
 Haha, nothing at all to do with sponsorship, just a statement of fact based on the extra top end you could gain through running a large front ring with the wide ranging rear cassette. I was spinning out a 36T ring on an 11T cog once I got to the piste road at the end, and was wishing for a bit more top end gearing. Simple as that. There's no way I would choose to run 2X on the course, it's just not reliable enough, and although I know of several XX1 riders who ran sans front guide, I would always choose to run a front guide too just for the extra security. For what it's worth, I was running Shimano through choice...
  • + 1
 3 personal appearances in the mega, once on a 224, twice on a reign with 2x9 - it is plenty reliable, unless of course you don't count the previous tens of thousands of finishers using something other than a 1 x 9,10,11 setup. Come on man.
  • - 1
 2x9 plenty reliable? I don't know what's your reliability tolerance threshold man. There are two, maybe three guides in the world that don't allow the chain to get dropped from granny ring. Then none of them can prevent the chain being dropped from middle ring, especially without clutch rear mech. When you are doing 30mph and want to step hard on pedals as the uphill starts you don't want your chain to be on granny ring. Taking a spin out at that speed on a singletrack with 2000ft long steep gradient on the right is at the top of "not-sure if want" list. Just as chain flying hanging around, banging on spokes at such speeds because it is on 11t cog and got dropped on granny, and no 2ring chain retention in the world prevents that.

Off course if you don't feel the need to step on the pedals then it is plenty reliable...
  • + 2
 like i said - tell that to the tens of thousands of finishers from the last 15 years or so. your name in that list is it?

seriously think before you type.
  • + 1
 1 more thing Waki - when we race the mega, we race to the right aside from a very small section in the quali, what that means is the steep chutes are always to the left of you as a rider, we do not go around the mountain to the left at any time. If you are going to be a smart arse try at least to be smart, or have some actual experience of the subject you are talking about.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Great photos and captions. I got goosebumps reading and looking at the pictures alone. Damn I hope I can do this race one day.
  • + 2
 DO IT - there is no amount of words that can explain it or the buggy fereling in your gut before the race starts - oh and the snow may look nice for the pro's in race 1 but after that it gets harder and harder with exponentially more ruts all getting deeper and more wiggly - do well in quali and hope for the best from there.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I'm currently on my way home from racing the Mega.. (In a motorway services - not on pink bike while driving haha) and I have to say it was one of the greatest experiences iv ever had!! Trails were insainly good, views were imcredable and the French chicks.. Well, there just in another league to British chicks! Bring on 2014!!!
[Reply]
  • + 4
 The article mentions there was lots of punctures. I would love to know why these guys use tubes.
  • + 2
 Tubeless punctures just the same as tubed when you get a rock slice. I know at least two of yesterday's punctured riders and they were both running tubeless. It's a brutal track with some seriously sharp rocks that will gladly tear tyres for breakfast.
  • + 1
 3 apperarances - 1 puncture. I have never run tubeless.

it's the tyre that will cost you - not the tube/tubelss setup
[Reply]
  • + 4
 the perspective created with the aerials really emphasized how steep that beginning is. great shots!
  • + 2
 and great captions as well. Felt like it was back 2009 (when i raced it), the way you described it..!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Anyone have any idea what some of the songs played up at the start line are?

I know the main song they start the race too is Alarma...
there is another one by david guetta - paris.

But im trying to find the one that had "and im lonely, hum hum hum!" ive googled and cant find anything, SOMEONE HELP!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I'm just amazed by the overall times, a few years back they were doing it in high 40 mins and now they are in the mid 30s for the whole track.
  • + 2
 Wow Coffman looks like he's hurting!!! I know I would be...
  • + 1
 phillywa - the track changes mate, annually.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Good job Iago Garay and well done, congratulations my friend!!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Looked amazing. Wish I was there this year!!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Haha why wasnt Jerome Clementz an option in the poll put up the other day?
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Jamie Nicoll 7th for a privateer!
  • + 1
 that's sick!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Just noticed that Dan was using the new GT Force and not the weird proto from the early EWS rounds.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Good job Iago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Big Grin
[Reply]
  • + 1
 those jumps were insane!!!!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Video of it please. Id really love to watch replay movie. Incredible race.
  • + 1
 you tube ! there will be hundreds of 2013 go-pro vids in the next couple of days
  • + 2
 You're right for sure but Id rather watch something more professional than just from camera helmet video Smile .
  • + 1
 true - they have a video/dvd every year but you may wait a while for it.
  • + 1
 Are there videos in high definition available for sale / download?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 YES Nico Quere, amazing performance!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 A broken nose!!?
  • + 2
 Not riding the bottom half of the course first is madness, even the 'easy' parts are full of surprises
[Reply]
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