Photos by Antoine Fournier, Video by Camille Germann, Words by Virgile Lecoultre
July 20th, 2019. Zinal, Valais, Switzerland, hosted the 2nd round of this year Swiss Enduro Cup which also served as the first (albeit unofficial), ever, Swiss Enduro Championship. The race, Rock the Besso, 5th edition, challenged riders over 6 stages. The 44 km course had a total of 1800 m of climbing, 3 gondola lifts and 3600 m of downhill.
Along with 188 starters, top Swiss and French EWS riders (Mélanie Pugin, Gustav Wildhaber, Maxime Chapuis, Patrick Luthi, Theotim Trabac, Tim Bratschi), local heroes and riders from Switzerland, France, Luxemburg, Germany, Italy gathered in Zinal for this one-day race.
Cristal-clear skies, comfortable temperatures were with the riders for this 5th edition of Rock the Besso. The course provided a blend of what the Valais has to offer in terms of trails: stage 1 and 2, which together form stage 5, starting above the tree line and ending 1000m below had a majority of high-speed, dusty, rocky trails. Stage 3, starting on the opposite side of the valley, is a steeper and slower stage and offers riders a mix of tight switchbacks in soft loam and larch needles and off-camber traverses. Back on the other side, stage 4 is again a mix between fast rocky and rooty traverses and switchbacks at its end. Stage 6 required riders to hike a bike and closed the race by providing a steep, soft, fresh trail in loam and larch needles.
Podium contenders and last years’ winners Maxime Chappuis (Specialized Racing), Manu Allaz (Orbea Cross Road) and Peter Stephan (Wheeler IXS) were unable to follow Gusti Wildhaber (Cube Action Team)’s pace, who took it by winning every single stage of the day. Tim Bratschi (Wheeler IXS) and Patrick Luthi (Scott Prof) completed the podium.
In the women’s race EWS podium contender and Rock the Besso past winner Melanie Pugin (Pivot Supertour) took the win, with Sidonie Jolidon and Andrea Kuster at the 2nd and 3rd position.
The juniors’ race was taken by Robin Kuechler (RMC Obwalden), Emeric Ienzer (Bold Cycles),Liam Seydoux (Bold Cycles). The Masters 40+ race was dominated by Florian Golay (Lapierre-CrossRoad Cycles), followed by José Carron and Raphael Salamin (Cyclone Gravity).
The Men’s category podium: Gustav Wildhaber (1st), Tim Bratschi (2nd), Patrick Luethi (3rd). Women’s podium: Melanie Pugin (1st), Sidonie Jolidon (2nd), Andrea Kuster (3rd).
Masters 40+ podium: Florian Golay (1st), Jose Carron (2nd), Raphael Salamin (3rd). Men U21 podium: Kuechler Robin (1st), Emeric Ienzer (2nd), Liam Seydoux (3rd).
Full results here
More infos about the race here
More infos about the Bold Enduro Helveticup here
PS: did I mention the after-race party somewhere?