Event Preview - EWS Round 4, La Thuile, Italy

Jul 14, 2016
by Dave Trumpore  




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.

Out of Switzerland and into Italy. It was time to get some proper food and some great riding in.
Out of Switzerland and into Italy. It was time to get some proper food and some great riding in.

Warp speed up and over the Splugenpasse from the Lenzerheide World Cup to reach this weekend s EWS round in La Thuile.
Warp speed up and over the Splugenpasse from the Lenzerheide World Cup to reach this weekend's EWS round in La Thuile.

Happened upon the Giger Bar in Chur Switzerland on the way out of Lenzerheide.
Happened upon the Giger Bar in Chur, Switzerland on the way out of Lenzerheide.
Crazy detail in the metal floor tiles of the Giger Bar.
Crazy detail in the metal floor tiles of the Giger Bar.

Swiss Alps in the distance while picking wild flowers one foot in Italy and the other still in Switzerland.
The Swiss Alps in the distance while picking wild flowers, one foot in Italy and the other still in Switzerland.

Rolling across the Swiss Alps and into Italy passing remnants of a time long gone by on the way.
Rolling across the Swiss Alps and into Italy, passing remnants of a time long gone by on the way.
Keeping watch over the Aosta Valley.
Keeping watch over the Aosta Valley.

EWS La Thuille 2016

Mother Nature has been in a bit of a mood here the past few days but the forecast for the weekend looks much more promising.
Mother Nature has been in a bit of a mood here the past few days, but the forecast for the weekend looks much more promising.
EWS La Thuille 2016

Welcome to Italy.
Welcome to Italy.

The alpine Village of La Thuile.
The alpine Village of La Thuile.

You know you are in Italy when an Ape whizzes putters by you every few minutes.
You know you are in Italy when Ape's whizz (putter) by you every few minutes.

The hills just above the village of La Thuile are simply breathtaking.
The hills just above the village of La Thuile are simply breathtaking.

The summit of Monte Bianco towering some 3200 meters above the village of La Thuile dictates much of the weather here in the Aosta Valley. Weather that can change quickly and often.
The summit of Monte Bianco, towering some 3200 meters above the village of La Thuile, dictates much of the weather here in the Aosta Valley. Weather that can change quickly and often.

EWS La Thuille 2016

Heading up the 1000 meter climb to the top of Stage 1 with bring racers up to and almost into the clouds.
Heading up the 1000 meter climb to the top of Stage 1 will bring racers up to and almost into the clouds.

The racers can shuttle half of this climb in practice but must pedal all 1000 meters on race day. The media crew however just might cheat a bit with E-Bikes.
The racers can shuttle half of this climb in practice, but must pedal all 1000 meters on race day. The media crew however, might just cheat a bit with E-Bikes.

Well above the treelike and the valley floor below lies the start of Stage 1.
Well above the treeline and the valley floor below lies the start of Stage 1.

Enrico and Baller lead us up to the top of an amazing stage one.
Enrico and Baller lead us up to the top of an amazing stage one.

So many expletives left our mouths about the views you might have thought we all had tourettes.
So many expletives left our mouths about the views, you might have thought we all had Tourettes.

Hands down La Thuile is just a lovely place to ride bikes.
Hands down, La Thuile is just a lovely place to ride bikes.

Dave being dwarfed by Monte Bianco after the top lift station.
Dave being dwarfed by Monte Bianco after the top lift station.

Dave Trumpore and Sven Martin dive into the top of an ever so fresh stage five.
Dave Trumpore and Sven Martin dive into the top of an ever so fresh stage five.

Monte Bianco not quite ready to reveal all of her glory just yet.
Monte Bianco not quite ready to reveal all of her glory just yet.

EWS director Chris Ball surveys the incredible views from the top of Stage 1.
EWS director, Chris Ball, surveys the incredible views from the top of Stage 1.

Richard Bord brought the French cheese Chis Ball supplied some English crackers and a plethora of media from all around the world enjoyed a snack high on an Italian mountaintop.
Richard Bord brought the French cheese, Chis Ball supplied some English crackers, and a plethora of media from all around the world enjoyed a snack high on an Italian mountaintop.

Swiss blades French cheese and Italian granite.
Swiss blades, French cheese, and Italian granite.

The hillsides here are extremely steep nearly vertical in many spots so a festival of switchbacks have been cut into many of the stages.
The hillsides here are extremely steep, nearly vertical in many spots, so a festival of switchbacks have been cut into many of the stages.

EWS La Thuille 2016

Once below the tree line the slopes continue their steep ways but the soil begins to change over to perfect fresh loam.
Once below the tree line, the slopes continue their steep ways, but the soil begins to change over to perfect fresh loam.

If you look close at the hillsides above La Thuile and alongside a few of the stages you begin to see some unique dwellings.
If you look closely at the hillsides above La Thuile and alongside a few of the stages, you begin to see some unique dwellings.

There is a ton of fresh track out there in La Thuile this time around which made for some fun cornering sessions.
There is a ton of fresh track out here this time in La Thuile, which made for some fun cornering sessions during the recce.

Chris Ball with the arm drag on stage one.
Chris Ball with the arm drag on stage one.

Bar drags in every switchback if you re on the gas.
Bar drags in every switchback if you're on the gas.

EWS La Thuille 2016

Matthew Delorme silhouetted against some dynamic skies on Stage 5.
Matthew Delorme silhouetted against some dynamic skies on Stage 5.

Just for a second and not a moment longer Monte Bianco finally appeared through the veil of clouds. Stages 2 and 5 both share this magnificent view right out of the start gate.
Just for a second and not a moment longer, Monte Bianco finally appeared through the veil of clouds. Stages 2 and 5 both share this magnificent view right out of the start gate.

EWS La Thuille 2016

EWS La Thuille 2016

Richie Rude is all smiles about getting on it tomorrow in practice.
Richie Rude is all smiles about getting on it tomorrow in practice.

After a missive crash a few weeks ago while racing Mountain of Hell in Les 2 Alpe Isabeau Cordurier says she is fully recovered and ready to go in La Thuile.
After a massive crash a few weeks ago while racing Mountain of Hell in Les 2 Alpes, Isabeau Cordurier says she is fully recovered and ready to go in La Thuile.
Perhaps the only serious photo I ll ever get of Graves.
Perhaps the only serious photo I'll ever get of Graves.

The racers that arrived early spent the first few days walking the tracks as they are not allowed to ride until practice opens on Thursday but all in attendance are grinning from ear to ear at what they ve seen.
The racers that arrived early spent the first few days walking the tracks as they are not allowed to ride until practice opens on Thursday, but all in attendance are grinning from ear to ear at what they've seen.

Only the finest in casual foot wear for Richie and Cody.
Guess the riders who belongs to each respective pair of footwear
EWS La Thuille 2016

Sam Hill finished 2nd at the last round in Ireland and the long loose steeps of La Thuile plus a few hundred switchbacks should be right up his alley.
Sam Hill finished 2nd at the last round in Ireland and the long, loose, steeps of La Thuile plus a few hundred switchbacks should be right up his alley.

Josh Carlson all smiles while looking at the course maps and the few thousand meters of vertical descending that lie ahead.
Josh Carlson getting excited while looking at the course maps and the few thousand meters of vertical descending that lie ahead.

It was Troy Brosnan s Birthday on Wednesday and he was all smiles after walking a few of the phenomenal stages hidden in La Thuile s steep hillsides.
It was Troy Brosnan's birthday on Wednesday and he was all smiles after walking a few of the phenomenal stages hidden in La Thuile's steep hillsides.

The techs were super busy in the lead up to practice as racers brought suspension and brakes in for servicing ahead of this weekend massive undertaking.
The techs were super busy in the lead up to practice as racers brought suspension and brakes in for servicing ahead of this weekend massive undertaking.
EWS La Thuille 2016

EWS La Thuille 2016

The Sramish Armada.
The SRAMish Armada.

Iago getting prepping his whip for maximum drift.
Iago getting prepping his whip for maximum drift.

Rain showers are making for some hero dirt conditions.
Rain showers are making for some hero dirt conditions.

Just a little evening light bro before the rained moved in.
Just a little evening "light bro" before the rained moved in.

You never know what wild life you ll find in the Italian alps.
You never know what wild life you'll find in the Italian alps.


MENTIONS: @davetrump / @mdelorme




29 Comments

  • + 31
 Excellent article, but leatherman tools (and blades) are from Oregon, not Switzerland. From a proud Oregonian living in Switzerland.

:-)
  • + 4
 It belongs to a Swiss gentleman, who bought it in Switzerland.... So we let it slide in that context.
  • + 7
 @davetrump: Also being pedantic but looks like Chris Ball brought Oatcakes, which are most definitely not an 'English Cracker' but a Scottish Flatbread.
  • + 1
 That cheese...
  • + 7
 @davetrump: Also, based on your position to the side of Mont Blanc, and the texture of the rock in question, the rock in that photo is more likely to be gneiss. Mont Blanc is essentially a core of granite surrounded by a sheath of gneiss
  • + 6
 WOW!!!!!! stunning pictures
  • + 1
 Love La Thuile, snowboarded there for four seasons when I lived in Italy. For the British film lovers, the last tunnel on the way up is the one used in The Italian Job where the Lamborghini Muira crashes into the bulldozer. Looks like an amazing place to ride in the Summer will have to pay a visit.
  • + 1
 we were in la thuile and all over the aosta valley last week, what a shame I am not there anymore to see the action! these bigmountains defentitaly set the stage for an epic race weekend
  • + 2
 F uckload of expletives! The venues and the photos keep getting better and better.
  • + 3
 beautiful...sitting here day dreaming
  • + 2
 Nat Geo would be proud of these pics lads, Cracking stuff!
  • + 2
 Hope Curtis Keene rips this weekend.
  • + 0
 Only if someone, as in race promoters would steep up their game in mtb enduro racing in the Ranger District of the Pisgah National to entertain this series???
  • + 1
 Why an ebike the first to be pictured? Do all the media riders use them?
  • + 1
 Get over it!
  • + 1
 Am i wrong or isn't Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc) at 4.810 meters high?
  • + 2
 3200m above the village - La Thuile is at 1450 ...so its almost right Smile
  • + 2
 The SRAMish Armada...
  • + 1
 j'ai de l’eau à la bouche
  • + 1
 Slippers: Cedric Gracia?
Burger shoes: Iago Garay?
  • + 1
 Slippers: Richy Rude
Burgers: Troy Brosnan
  • + 2
 giger (rip) rocks.
  • + 1
 great pics til the ebike showed up. bye felisha
  • + 2
 well when you try to cover almost all of the 6 stages in one day without uplift and each stage is 700m-1000 in elevation gain they certainly do seem like the right tool for the job. Actually they are an absolutely perfect tool for the job at a venue like this, and were invaluable through the weekend in my being able to shoot this event and do it justice.
  • + 1
 must buy those burger shoes
  • + 2
 Comté cheese, yummy!!!
  • + 2
 No! Beaufort cheese!
  • + 1
 Welcome to Italy
  • + 1
 Dat last pic <3

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