The weekend was emotionally charged at Montgenèvre, as the whole French downhill scene mourned the tragic death of Ivan Oziol. Friends of Orzoi gathered, and raced for him and gave the best of themselves for the 2016 Championship of France. Coincidentally or not, two of his best riding mates podiumed in the Elite category.

In the absence of Loic Bruni, who is still injured, the podium was open. Rémi Thirion was more motivated than ever to pick up a tricolor jersey that has eluded him since the beginning of his years racing Elite. Loris Vergier has also proven to be able to establish himself as a leader by taking a podium at the World Cup in Leogang earlier this year. Amaury Pierron was also among the serious contenders, alongside Florent Payet.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

At the beginning of the event, all of the small community of French descenders sent a tribute to a friend, acquaintance and just a great rider. For several minutes, all riders applauded in tribute to their deceased friend. There were many to know Ivan Oziol and the young rider has marked everyone with his humor, love for downhill and for partying after each race.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

During the weekend all the riders had a sticker on their bike: #whipforzoz #cestlenfer celebrating the memory of their good friend Ivan Oziol.

The Montgenèvre track was not really easy for many riders. Very natural, the track runs at high speed and the first part consisted mainly of large open flat turns. After 3000 runs, there were some bumpy sections on the inside line.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

The track was playing with the terrain and if the elevation was not always huge, it was essential to maintain a good pace as it was easy to make some mistakes.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

The riders then enter a covered portion of track that is very dusty and slippery. In the Narrows, the many small stones left riders feeling like they were riding on the edge...

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Then came the third part of the track which was again heavily loaded with shifty turns and loose stones. They were likely to lose precious seconds here if they didn't get it right.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

During the first runs, Florent Payet tasted the soil of Montgenèvre.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Rémi Thirion and Loris Vergier have also borne the brunt of this track that requires a lot of attention.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

After the first day, Thibaut Ruffin takes the best place qualifying saying "The upper part suited me well".

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

bigquotesIn a championship of France, I already took fourth and fifth places but there I really wanted a podium for Zoz (the nickname of Ivan Oziol). This run of qualification was in trust to me and finally I found myself the last from the day of the final. I am not used to that! Thibaut Ruffin

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Behind him, Amaury Pierron proves that its Australian injury is a distant memory. There is a second of the team manager of Team Commencal Vallnord.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Behind them, Faustin Figaret also proves his good form by taking the second fastest time on the top.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Loris Vergier is 4th in front of Florent Payet and Rémi Thirion.

bigquotesFrench Championship is one of the hardest race of the year, cause all the Frenchies are just so fast, the track is always typical French and we are not used to it anymore, but still happy to come every year. I crashed during my race run cause of the tightness of the track (typical French haha) but I wasn't able to win anyway so no regrets. - Loris Vergier

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

In the women's field Myriam Nicole showed that she is back, even if she does not feel 100%:

bigquotesIt's never easy to win a one day race like the National Champs. We had a hard week before the race, losing a close friend Ivan Oziol, so I was really motivated to win for him. The track was full speed and loose, I knew that I had to stay on the bike to get the win and that's what I did even if I almost crashed on the first corner! It was awesome to watch the men's race with my teammates riding so well! Thibaut's victory was unreal as I kept laughing at him the whole week because he seemed too confident.Myriam Nicole

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Morgane Charre was the first title contender behind Myriam Nicole.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Sunday, for the final day, Montgenèvre sky was all blue and the temperatures were rising fast.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Loic Bruni remains in the bath of the competition by coming lend its support to his team. He comes back on a bike and preparing to return.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Loic was riding for the first time this weekend on his enduro bike.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

But he should be back in the game pretty soon. His downhill bike is ready for some suspension testing this week.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Pilots were training for a few laps during this Sunday morning on the track that requires talent and experience.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

As in every race, there are a lot of disappointed drivers or victims of mechanical problems. Loris Vergier was one of those. A broken brake would prevent him from victory.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

All the riders, in the top 20 of this final, evolved in the DH World Cup.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Guillaume Cauvin (Giant Factory Off-Road Racing) finished 10th in this French Championship.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

The first representative of the Vallnord-Commencal team, (team of the weekend) Gaëtan Ruffin (Thibaut brothers) had an excellent run and takes sixth place.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Before him, Faustin Figaret enters the top 5 but the Magura driver lost two places after qualifying.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Riding Addiction's second representative Rémi Thirion is fourth. One imagines he might be a little disappointed with that performance but, says his team manager and new champion of France, "It's going to happen sooner or later."

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Florent Payet finished third. Tthe Reunion Island rider showed good performances over the lasts two seasons even if injury hampered his season last year.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Amaury Pierron, second before last to leave, had the fastest lap on the bottom of the course but his eighth place at the first intermediate was not enough to open the doors to the gold medal. The pilot Lac Blanc-Commencal realizes his second season in the Elite category and after two silver medals in the French Championship, a podium on the World Cup of Lourdes and other excellent performance, no doubt future victories are ahead.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Finally, the last to leave, motivated as ever, Thibaut Ruffin soars. 2 minutes and forty seconds later he crossed the finish line and all his buddies and the national coach jump into the finish zone to
congratulate him.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Who was going to beat for Myriam Nicole? The answer fell by mid afternoon: nobody!

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Morgane Charre came close to the Vallnord Commencal pilot but in the end, there was 5 seconds between Myriam and Morgane.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Gaëtan Vigé became Champion of France, completing the clean sweep of the Vallnord Commencal team.GV.

bigquotes This week end was special because I knew how that will be hard for me to get on the top step after manage to win the Leogang World Cup. I just would to give proof of I can be fast on every race and kind of track. The track was really strange, because to have a good run we should don't brake. I am also happy about the work we did on the bike with my mechanic. That was so good to see my mates win after the tragedy about Zoz. I don't known him personally but that a really good friend for them. So I am really happy to see them give him the best homage. - Gaetan Vige

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

Sylvain Cougoureux (Team Intense Les Gets) is only at half of a second behind him.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre
Podium junior categoy. 1st - Gaetan Vige, 2nd - Sylvain Cougoureux, 3rd - Kevin Marry. Full results here.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre
Podium Ladies. 1st Myriam Nicolle, 2nd - Morgane Charre, 3rd - Marine Cabirou. Full results here.

French Downhill championship 2016 Montgen vre
Podium Men. 1st Thibaut Ruffin, 2nd - Amaury Pierron, 3rd - Florent Payet. Full results here.





MENTIONS: @glg-photography



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3 Comments

  • + 5
 So glad to see Myriam getting back up to speed. I really believe that if she stays fit she had a real chance of challenging Rachel's current dominance.
  • + 5
 AWESOME PICS... amazing track !!! World cup race in Montgenévre please.....
  • + 4
 Yeah myriammmmmmmmm !

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