Superenduro Round 2, Punta Ala - Saturday Practice and Prologue

May 5, 2012
by Matt Wragg  
Saturdays are difficult for enduro racing. You need to tread a fine line: of course you want to get up there and practice, but you also need to think about saving your legs for race day. It gets harder the longer a stage is too, because there is more to learn in one go, but they will inevitably have tougher transfers to ruin your legs.

Speaking to a couple of riders this morning there was mild panic about whether they had a shuttle organised for stage two, as it's this weekend furthest stage out (and the main reason Sundays race is over an intimidating 60km). They'd put off practicing it as the idea was to get a shuttle today and it was clear they weren't keen to put those kind of miles in today, but how do you go into race day if you don't know the longest timed section? Fortunately their shuttle showed up a little later, but it really shows how much you need to think about your riding with these races...

Morning coffee.
  First things, first though... If you're in Italy coffee is the only way to start the day.

The Orbea Team from Slovenia.
  The guys from the Slovenian Orbea team were out early this morning. Last year they came over to try a couple of rounds. This year they make the long journey over to do every round.

Paul Aston has been living in this van for the last couple of months.
  Brit racer, Paul Aston, is living the camper van dream. He's decked out his VW van with a workshop area, sink and sexy leopard skin couch. Apparently there's a leopard skin thong in there somewhere, but sometimes you'd rather not know any more details.

  They were setting up the podium in the pits this morning. Place your bets on who will be standing on these steps now...

The gnarly finger.
  That's as straight as it gets. James McKnight is gnarly. He smashed this a few years back and it's over-calfcified and set in that position... He reckons he'll get it sorted when he breaks it again.

Valentina Macheda giving her bike some pre-pracitce prep.
  Valentina Macheda getting her bike prepped for the race.

Doesn t that look good stretching out ahead
  It's sections like this that make it hard standing behind a camera. How can you not want to smash flowing curves like that?

Stage 2.
  The rock section towards the bottom of stage two was causing problems for a lot of people - this fella is about three foot off line and about to pull up before he stuffs it into a bush.

Andrea Pirazolli keeping out of the ruts on stage 2.
  Andrea Pirazolli wasn't having any of those problems though, keeping it high and off the brakes.

Al Stock hucking.
  Al Stock getting his huck on. There were two options here, follow the trail through those curves, or man up and launch it. You can't really tell from this photo, but he was so close to the tree it left a six inch scratch on his arm. That kind of confidence has put him in second place after the prologue.

A local volunteer helping out on the prologue.
  The streets of Castiglione della Pescaia were lined with volunteers to help marshall the prologue.

A panning shot that actually worked for once.
  Nobody was hanging about, all the way through the field, riders were going pretty much flat-out on this thirty second sprint from the castle at the top of the town, to the centre below.

One of the Vibram riders competing for a place at the Natural Games in Millau.
  Vibram have given a handful of privateer racers the chance to compete for a place at the Natural Games in Millau this year.

Paul Aston on the gas in the prologue.
  Paul Aston on his way to, errr, finishing. He wasn't too sure where he ended up, but he's not been feeling on it all week and popped by this evening to make sure he had his excuses in well before the race tomorrow. In his words, this weekend is damage limitation now, trying to salvage as many points as possible to stay in the hunt for the series title.

Dan Atherton his way to winning the prologue.
  Dan Atherton on his way to winning the prologue. There have never been questions about his speed, so it's not surprising he could win on a short course like this, but tomorrow is a different question. He was describing the race as being as physically demanding as World Cup XC and, in places, as tough as World Cup DH.

Castiglione della Pescaia
  As the sun dips towards the skyline of Castiglione della Pescaia, the first blood is drawn and with Brits in the top two positions, the Italians are going to want to put that right tomorrow... Although Italian favourite, Alex Lupato, has had a bit of a disaster already, blowing up a tyre and destroying his drivetrain. It all happened with a big thump, not the kind of sound you want to hear on racing in tight streets like these.

The big talk in Punta Ala tonight is inevitably the weather. A big system is on its way in and rain is pretty much a dead cert for tomorrow. Apparently some of the "pros" have been asking to have the race cut short if it is chucking it down, but what is certain is that it's not the Brits asking to have it chopped. Paul Aston and Al Stock were pushing the Punta Ala crew to add a stage if it's wet... Whatever happens with the weather, tomorrow we go racing.


  • 25 1
 you cant cut a bloody race cos its raining. this is cycling not bloody golf !
  • 8 2
 Generally they dont cut golf for the rain you need to find a different sport. but i know where you are coming from mountain biking is supposed to be in all weather ok it is nicer in the warm and dry but you dont get to see people take the most sketchy lines.`
  • 4 2
 COME ON YOU BRITS, Why are we so good at cycling?
  • 2 0
 Try Tennis.
  • 11 0
 Will be interesting to see how Dan does on the GT!!!
  • 4 0
 Ha, I love that the Italians are trying to get the race cut short and the Brits are just like 'WOOOHOO ADD MORE STAGES 8D'. That's proper British attitude!
  • 4 0
 ". . .as physically demanding as World Cup XC and, in places, as tough as World Cup DH." This is the reason I love enduro.
  • 2 0
 GODDAMNIT. I literally thought about that right as I pressed the back button.
  • 2 0
 Hi guys, just wondering. Anyone know where i can check their bike's specs? Really want to build the enduro bike. thanks
  • 2 0
 Depending on the terrain you want 140-170mm travel. Aim for the 30lb mark. You want to be able to smash the descents like a DH bike but still quickly ride back up the hill.
I'd class my bike as an enduro bike at the moment. Think its just over 32lbs. 165mm Last Herb FR frame, 160mm BOS deville's, stans flows, hope m4 brakes. 2x9 gearing (want to build my legs up to go 1x9 or 1x10)
  • 2 0
 ^ I'm pretty much in the same position as you right now with a Trek scratch. I highly suggest switching up to a 1x10 setup because you still have a low enough gear where chuggin uphill is more than possible and it also cuts the weight down a bit.
  • 2 0
 1*10 all the way run a chain ring and you are sorted love my lapierrie spicy perfect enduro bike
  • 1 0
 Wow, great thank you all...
  • 2 0
 Cool read. Right on Dan Atherton
  • 1 0
 I did a course with Paul Aston last year in whistler, that guy is fast and has style. Really hope he does well in the series
  • 2 0
 Al stocks line looks sick and deff a time shaver
  • 1 0
 hell yeah, that sequence is badass
  • 1 0
 come on Dan! surely manage it.
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