Nestled beneath the slopes of Mont Blanc, Europe’s most iconic peak, La Thuile proved an instant hit with riders when it hosted an EWS back in July 2014. Featuring long, natural trails that wind their way down ancient Alpine passes, the area ensures that the 400 riders competing this weekend at the fourth round of the Enduro World Series will be in for an incredible two days of racing.
The signs were there as we drove up the Aosta valley, heading to La Thuile and the heart of the Alps. From the autostrada, you can see just a glimpse of the lower slopes of Mont Blanc, or Monte Bianco from the Italian side, standing guard at almost twice the height of the surrounding peaks. Seeing snow-capped Alps in mid July was the first warning sign of what was to come. Sure, the snow never really melts at high altitude, but this was a fresh dusting of white, making it evident that there weren't going to be any clear cut summer days on this type of terrain. The weather was reminding everyone just how serious big mountain racing can be.
As in 2014, many of the race’s six stages will be accessed by chairlift, but that doesn’t mean the racers are in for an easy weekend. Even with the chairlift riders will still have to earn their descents--with plenty of pedalling included--to access a mixture of new and ancient trail that will push everyone to their limit. With 4800 meters of total descending being raced, not including the two days of practice, racers will be covering the same vertical drop as they would if they were to ride from the summit of Monte Bianco down to the sea.
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