Superenduro PRO 1, Sestri Levante, Practice and Prologue

Apr 14, 2013
by Matt Wragg  
 
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Where did the winter go to? It feels like only last week that we were signing off from the 2012 season in Finale Ligure. Those five months have flown by and here we are again hurtling in a season's enduro racing here in Italy. For some this day surely couldn't come soon enough, but how many are wishing for more time to build fitness and find speed?

To open the season the series has headed back to a venue that wasn't on the PRO circuit in 2012, but has been a riders' favourite for many years: Sestri Levante. The small seaside town in the North-Western province of Liguria has been part of Superenduro since 2008. One thing brings them back time and again, and it's not the seaside, the beautiful views or even the ice cream. It's the trails. Rising up from the sea, the mountains here hold a network of trails that are in parts flat-out fast, and in others steep, rocky and ugly. Seemingly endless descents that are in equal parts fun and challenging.

There has been a lot of talk about enduro in the off-season, what is it? What will its future be? What says more than any of the digital speculation, magazine features or bar talk is that 500 riders signed up to race this week. If you want to understand it, you just need to come here and see this and it all makes a lot more sense...

It s great to be back on the circuit and see familiar faces like the ever-smiling Vittorio Gambirasio. Chatting to him about the winter he s clear that he s been putting the mileage in ready for today. He s definitely looking bigger and leaner than last time we saw him. The only problem is so do the rest of the top riders...
  It's great to be back on the circuit and see familiar faces like the ever-smiling Vittorio Gambirasio. Chatting to him about the winter he's clear that he's been putting the mileage in ready for today. He's definitely looking bigger and leaner than last time we saw him. The only problem is, so do the rest of the top riders...

While there has been five months to prepare for this race that doesn t mean there is no last minute tinkering going on to get the bikes ready in time.
  While there has been five months to prepare for this race, that doesn't mean there is no last minute tinkering going on to get the bikes ready in time.

Last orders for practice. It was time to cram everything into the van and head up towards the trails as quickly as you could.
  Last orders for practice. It was time to cram everything into the van and head up towards the trails as quickly as you could.

Michal Prokop has turned his hand to enduro this year and this is his first time at a Superenduro race. He definitely stands out among the regular racers. While most enduro racers tend to be fairly normal-looking guys and he is a giant slab of muscle walking amongst them. His 4X world champs stripes put his bike handling beyond question but will his sheer size slow him down We ll find out tomorrow...
  Michal Prokop has turned his hand to enduro this year and this is his first time at a Superenduro race. He definitely stands out among the regular racers. While most enduro racers tend to be fairly normal-looking guys, he is a giant slab of muscle walking amongst them. His 4X world champs stripes put his bike handling beyond question, but will his sheer size slow him down? We'll find out tomorrow...

We headed up with Toby and Sam Pantling to have a look at stage two in the afternoon. This is typical of much of the climbing in Superenduro - when you re racing in real mountains singletrack tends to be too steep to climb so you end up on roads and fireroads to reach the top. You are then rewarded with long descents so we d say it s all good in our book.
  We headed up with Toby and Sam Pantling to have a look at stage two in the afternoon. This is typical of much of the climbing in Superenduro - when you're racing in real mountains singletrack tends to be too steep to climb, so you end up on roads and fireroads to reach the top. You are then rewarded with long descents, so we'd say it's all good in our book.

This year Toby Pantling has picked up a ride with Nukeproof as an ambassador and development rider. He seems to be getting on with the bike quite well...
  This year Toby Pantling has picked up a ride with Nukeproof as an ambassador and development rider. He seems to be getting on with the bike quite well...



This is a good view of the trails up above the town. Once you leave the forests at the top you get onto this kind of fast open rocky terrain.
  This is a good view of the trails up above the town. Once you leave the forests at the top you get onto this kind of fast, open, rocky terrain.

Toby and Sam chasing each other back down towards the town to get ready for the prologue.
  Toby and Sam chasing each other back down towards the town to get ready for the prologue.

Mark Scott was keen to get back here to Superenduro enthusing that he thinks it s the best race series out there. He says he has more fun here than anywhere else and when he looks like this one a bike who are we to argue
  Mark Scott was keen to get back here to Superenduro, enthusing that he thinks it's the best race series out there. He says he has more fun here than anywhere else and when he looks like this one a bike, who are we to argue?

The paddock is down there on the strip of reclaimed land running out from town to what used to be a small island. It is very nice spending time with the sea on both sides of you.
  The paddock is down there, on the strip of reclaimed land running out from town to what used to be a small island. It is very nice spending time with the sea on both sides of you.

Michal Prokop mountain bike hitting things hard.
  Michal Prokop + mountain bike = hitting things hard.

Yes that s a real race plate. It needs saying again 500 riders are racing this weekend.
  Yes, that's a real race plate. It needs saying again: 500 riders are racing this weekend.

After a morning s practice on the trails Gianluca Vernassa heads for the beach to relax. The young Devinci Factory Team rider took some time out from his World Cup downhill ambitions to come and have fun at this enduro race just a couple of hours from his home. For some reason he s ended up with the number 13 plate this weekend but he s not one for superstition and is running it with pride.
  After a morning's practice on the trails, Gianluca Vernassa heads for the beach to relax. The young Devinci Factory Team rider took some time out from his World Cup downhill ambitions to come and have fun at this enduro race just a couple of hours from his home. For some reason he's ended up with the number 13 plate this weekend, but he's not one for superstition and is running it with pride.

With 500 riders this weekend the prologue took about three hours so there was much sitting around in the sun and watching to be done.
  With 500 riders this weekend, the prologue took about three hours, so there was much sitting around in the sun and watching to be done.

The course officials giudice di percorso looked to be having the most fun today running around the streets of the old town on their trials bikes to keep an eye on things. Although as someone who doesn t own a trials bike I need to ask one this is the lycra normal Fair play if it is I think I d want at least a solid set of kneepads on those things.
  The course officials (giudice di percorso) looked to be having the most fun today, running around the streets of the old town on their trials bikes to keep an eye on things. Although, as someone who doesn't own a trials bike, I need to ask one this: is the lycra normal? Fair play if it is, I think I'd want at least a solid set of kneepads on those things.

Pauline Diefenthaler made the trip over from Northern France with Jerome Clementz and is looking faster and more confident this year. Today she took a solid fifth place just three seconds off the pace.
  Pauline Diefenthaler made the trip over from Northern France with Jerome Clementz and is looking faster and more confident this year. Today she took a solid fifth place, just three seconds off the pace.

Isabeau Courdurier made a few trips over to Italy last year. She was never far from the top of the timesheets each time today was no different. She put more than two seconds between herself and second-placed Laura Rossin over a minute course.
  Isabeau Courdurier made a few trips over to Italy last year. She was never far from the top of the timesheets each time, today was no different. She put more than two seconds between herself and second-placed Laura Rossin over a minute course.

Jerome was clearly keen to come and get his eye in at Superenduro race before they host the first Enduro World Series race in a month s time. A minute pedal through the streets may sound easy but being on the gas that long hurts. Really hurts. Coming home in third one second behind a renowned pedal monster like Alex Lupato should answer any questions you have about how fit he is under the easy-going smiling exterior.
  Jerome was clearly keen to come and get his eye in at Superenduro race before they host the first Enduro World Series race in a month's time. A minute pedal through the streets may sound easy, but being on the gas that long hurts. Really hurts. Coming home in third, one second behind a renowned pedal monster like Alex Lupato should answer any questions you have about how fit he is under the easy-going, smiling exterior.




Alex Lupato has clearly been putting in the work this winter and powered his way to the win in 54.1 seconds. Tomorrow is a long day but these days every second counts and a 0.9 second advantage of his nearest rival might just make the difference.
  Alex Lupato has clearly been putting in the work this winter and powered his way to the win in 54.1 seconds. Tomorrow is a long day, but these days every second counts and a 0.9 second advantage of his nearest rival might just make the difference.

The sunset on a town of tired happy riders and a few sores ones too . Tomorrow is when the real racing gets underway...
  The sunset on a town of tired, happy riders (and a few sores ones too). Tomorrow is when the real racing gets underway...

Riders were queuing to find out how they did in the prologue until long after nightfall.
  Riders were queuing to find out how they did in the prologue until long after nightfall.

www.superenduromtb.com
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49 Comments

  • + 36
 There's a lot if riders on zochi
  • + 8
 Do not call it a come back!!!!!!
  • + 66
 Looks like a comeback
  • + 18
 I like the look of those blue forks...
  • + 6
 Pic 3 and 4 should switch forks Big Grin
  • + 4
 The race is in Italy...you definitely see more Zoch's on the European Enduro Series.
  • + 8
 Marzo said knock you out
  • + 5
 Don't call it a comeback...I been here for years!!
  • + 3
 That cuz they are the BEST Smile
  • + 3
 Yeaa Yeaa supermario enduro time. Get your pizzas and marzocchi 55's ready for action. 55s are the mutha fuggin shiz. I still unlocking awesome features on my 2010 55 ata. Its a bit heavier but way plush and adjustable. No puny fox dust seal bullshiz either.
  • + 2
 i've owned two rock shox, two manitou forks, three fox forx, and four marzocchi forks. the zokes are hands down the best performing in each respective generation since 1995 - when i started mtn biking. aesthetically fox rules but i'm more function over form.
  • + 1
 Looks like Jerome killed it and Prokop has some things to learn about enduro. Lots of pros and they all have sponsors except Matteo.
  • + 1
 Those videos drained my energy and left me panting for my life.
  • + 1
 Its unbelievable that guy clementz is dominating this event soo often. There are soo many variables, soo many things that could mess with your results in enduro. For someone to win consistant is quite remarkable. Not to mention the massive field of riders and longer race with potential mech problems. These guys not getting enough credit.
  • + 1
 I totally agree with you. What Clementz does in Enduro is equallly impressive to what Aaron Gwin did over the 2011 & 2012 DH World Cup seasons.

The consistency and domination is mind blowing. As enduro racing grows...I'm sure he will have more competition though.
  • + 1
 We are starting to see what it takes to be a great enduro rider. Dh background as well as xc, slim build, and crazy endurance. I rode dh with Clementz so I know he can rip, but never did trail ride with him. All these years I was doing enduro riding and didnt even know it. Just called it riding trails.
[Reply]
  • + 24
 Wragg I love your work but please stop whining those mountains being so-called "real" mountains compared to I don't know what. Excellent racing can be had on small mountains without compromising the integrity of the format. Mont-Sainte-Anne is a small hill compared to Europe, but still home to a legendary, gnarly and difficulty track.

Generally speaking be more open to different forms of enduro/super d racing that don't necessarily fit in "your" mold of how things should be. As the self-proclaimed "enduro" guy on PinkBike you should be an ambassador for the discipline, not the ambassador of snarky comments....
  • + 4
 also stop whining on other things too... nobody wants to read an article that is only whiny comments....
[Reply]
  • + 7
 Lycra is normal for trials, not sure why, but it is.
  • + 1
 that is weird considering the lack of speed associated with trials riding relative to every other discipline of cycling.
  • + 4
 I believe that is for freedom of movement
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Great pictures and nice comments about the racers. Enduro is sorta unpredictable, but Jerome is probably the favorite I would guess?

Prokop will be interesting to watch in enduro, but I think Gianluca could surprise and win a stage. Wish I was there...
[Reply]
  • + 5
 As usual, amazing photos Matt.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 number of spectators sure seems to be pretty weak sauce --- looks like half the crowd is pit crew people or people who just happen to be walking by doing their day to day stuff and if it's anything like the local races around here, the rest of the crowd is just friends/family of the riders.
  • + 1
 I'm not too surprised, given that this is the Prologue.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Thats one featureless track!!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Silly race & riders..
Rigid bike with small block 8 tires...
Riding on flats...maybe couple steps down need body armor? Wow...that's technical. POS.
  • + 2
 No skills need it. Waste my 2:44 plus typing time... POS.
  • + 1
 yea, takes the piss really..
[Reply]
  • + 2
 That's a damn sexy D3 on Jerome's head...Absalon also quit on the Bluegrass helmets! Why is that?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Picture caption about Mark Scott has got a bad typo there ("...like this one a bike..."). Just whining for a split of a second.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 im really liking the amount of enduro riding happening. id almost say i like it more then DH racing
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Awesome pictures as always. I'm really happy to see this "new" discipline developing so fast.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 they forgot to take their road bike on the streets
[Reply]
  • + 1
 in that first vid, they need to be making a massive burm outa that sand and then laying the plastic over it.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 1st picture, those guys look real excited
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Why is the Transition rider not on the new carbon frame?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Superenduro awesome series those guys have it sorted!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 The trials bike guy thinking... that's easy.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 My team raced there this weekend! Smile
[Reply]
  • + 1
 nice write up matt, much better then your bike reviews keep it up
[Reply]
  • + 1
 The Pantling appreciation review
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Notice more aluminum frames over carbon
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Yeah Prokop, come on!!
[Reply]
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