The sixth edition of the Santa Cruz Andes Pacifico kicked off high in that Andes Mountains looking down on the La Parva ski resort. Anyone who followed the EWS round held here last year
might find the first few stages familiar, as they were all included in some form or another at the opening round just under a year ago.
Dropping in from the moonscape on La Parva riders were greeted by dust, more dust, and little to no traction whatsoever. The first stage would be the shortest with just 800m of descending, while the second stage, on the infamous Parvazo trail, would be the longest at 1200m. To close the day racers we're greeted by what race organizers described as a "festival of switchbacks". A steep and long and trail with loose switchback after loose switchback for 1000m that ended just across the river from the campsite, where cold beers and swims in the river closed out the first of five long days.
After one day of racing the top three men are separated by just one second with Chilean champ Pedro Burns leading out Kiwi, Wyn Masters and another Chilean, Nico Prudencio. For the women it is local favorite Florencia Espineira with a big lead followed by Great Britain's Laura Battista and France's Pauline Diefenthaler.
Tomorrow is an early start and another big day in the Andes with four stages and over 3500 meters of descending.
That fresh fruit though.