Italian Winter - Enduro World Series, Round 4 - La Thuile

Jul 10, 2014
by Matt Wragg  
The signs were there as we drove up the Aosta valley. Heading to La Thuile for the fourth round of the Enduro World Series, you hang a right at Turin and head straight into the heart of the Alps. From the autostrada you can see just a glimpse of the top of Pila, a small hint of the high mountain perfection that you're missing as you scud past at 130km/h. The Pila resort tops out at 2,500m, which would be serious elevation in any other valley - but with Mont Blanc standing guard at the head of the valley at more than twice that height, it doesn't seem such a big deal. Seeing snow at that height at this time of year was the warning sign for what was to come. Sure, the big, dirty snow banks never really melt, but this was a fresh dusting on the hard, cold slate. Fresh snow, in July... Climbing up on the freshly-asphalted roads to La Thuile you could start to see more of the weather that is hanging over the Alps right now, it was clear that this wasn't going to be the endless, hot summer days of the last round in Valloire, the weather was going to make sure everyone remembers how serious big mountain racing can be.

We left Geneva with all of it s high-end hustle and bustle behind and headed for the alps.
  We left Geneva with all of its high-end hustle and bustle behind and headed for the alps.

Weaving through the myriad alpine tunnels that snake through the mountain passes as we travel from Geneva to La Thuille.
  Weaving through the myriad alpine tunnels that snake through the mountain passes as we travel from Geneva to La Thuille.

Yes you can have this model Ferrari for a mere 349.00 euros. Available at many rest stops along the auto strada.
  Yes, you can have this model Ferrari for a mere 349.00 euros. Available at many rest stops along the autostrada.

There s no missing this race - the local community have been making sure that people know there is a race going on this weekend and one of the first things you see when you leave the autostrada is signposts to the race.
  There's no missing this race - the local community have been making sure that people know there is a race going on this weekend and one of the first things you see when you leave the autostrada are signposts to the event.

La Thuile - this stunning little town lies just underneath the French Italian border at the very head of the Aosta Valley.
  La Thuile - this stunning little town lies just underneath the French/Italian border at the very head of the Aosta Valley.

We were lucky to arrive in a break in the systems that are battering the mountains this is the kind of view the organisers were hoping we would arrive to see this weekend.
  We were lucky to arrive during a break in the systems that are battering the mountains, this is the kind of view the organisers were hoping we would arrive to see this weekend.

When the wind blows in the right direction we can get a peek at some of the lower peaks though.
  When the wind blows in the right direction we can get a peek at some of the lower peaks though.

Somewhere behind there is possibly Mont Blanc it s hard to be sure right now. While it may not be your traditional post card view it s hard to deny how dramatic it still looks.
  Somewhere behind there is possibly Mont Blanc, it's hard to be sure right now. While it may not be your traditional post card view, it's hard to deny how dramatic it looks.

When the wind blows in the right direction we can get a peek at some of the lower peaks though.
  More mountains peeking out from the clouds.

The privateers left their vans parked outside and sneaked into the hotel to steal wifi while they waited for either the weather to break or the racing to start whichever came first.
  The privateers left their vans parked outside and sneaked into the hotel to steal wifi while they waited for either the weather to break or the racing to start, whichever came first.

The chairlift beckoning with the promise of long steep descents.
  The chairlift, beckoning with the promise of long, steep descents.

In the mountains there isn t a huge amount to do in between seasons one local clearly spent that time work on his Ape.
  In the mountains there isn't a huge amount to do in between seasons, one local clearly spent that time working on his Ape.

This is one man we don t doubt many people have been waiting to see back racing at this level - Dan Atherton. Normally an injury means coming back to racing under-prepared but Dan has taken his time not rushed back to racing. Could he just be the spoiler in everyone s predictions this weekend
  This is one man we don't doubt many people have been waiting to see back racing at this level - Dan Atherton. Normally an injury means coming back to racing under-prepared, but Dan has taken his time, not rushed back to racing. Could he just be the spoiler in everyone's predictions this weekend?

Sadly this man isn t making a comeback this weekend. Jerome Clementz says he s healing well but his shoulder is not yet strong enough to risk crashing. The good news is that this does mean he s on course to be back racing for when the series returns to Finale Ligure at the end of the season.
  Sadly this man isn't making a comeback this weekend. Jerome Clementz says he's healing well, but his shoulder is not yet strong enough to risk crashing. The good news is that this does mean he's on course to be back racing for when the series returns to Finale Ligure at the end of the season.

The winner of the award for this weekends slackest bike goes to Gav Carroll. He left Ireland to come racing at Valloire and has been on the road since. Unluckily for him his fork blew early on and like most of the privateers racers he doesn t have enough cash spare to replace it. Tim Flooks at SRAM helped him stay racing with a spare fork he had tucked away - one of Curtis Keenes old forks. The only snag is that Curtis runs at 29er and Gavs Trek Slask is 27.5 so his headangle has got pretty wild sitting at what he reckons must be close to 63 degrees. That said for the tracks here and the speeds the guys are hitting it might be bonus.
  The winner of the award for this weekends slackest bike goes to Gav Carroll. He left Ireland to come racing at Valloire and has been on the road since. Unluckily for him, his fork blew early on and like most of the privateers racers he doesn't have enough cash spare to replace it. Tim Flooks at SRAM helped him stay racing with a spare fork he had tucked away, the only snag is that the fork is for a 29er, and Gavs Trek Slask is 27.5", so his head angle has got pretty wild, sitting at what he reckons must be close to 63 degrees. That said, for the tracks here and the speeds the guys are hitting, it might be bonus.

There s a mountain up there somewhere.
  There's a mountain up there, somewhere.

Just one of the things Italy does incredibly well. Cured meat. The perfect thing after a long day of pounding out laps in the cold.
  Just one of the things Italy does incredibly well. Cured meat. The perfect thing after a long day of pounding out laps in the cold.

Jan prepares Nico Laus bike for action. We reckon the Frenchman is probably the man to watch this weekend as he was utterly flying last time out at Valloire.
  Jan prepares Nico Lau's bike for action. We reckon the Frenchman is probably the man to watch this weekend, as he was utterly flying last time out at Valloire.

Any high alpine environment is subject to unstable weather. This morning riders woke up to a text that let them know summer had gone and winter had moved in.
  Any high alpine environment is subject to unstable weather. This morning, riders woke up to a text that let them know summer had gone, and winter had moved in.

Thursday was what is officially called the media recce it is the day journalists and photographers can ride the course before the serious business of covering the race begins.
  Thursday was what is officially called the media recce, it is the day journalists and photographers can ride the course before the serious business of covering the race begins.

Hats gloves puffy coats and whatever else you can layer on this morning before heading up the lift. At least it s not as bad as Mega.
  Hats, gloves, puffy coats, and whatever else you can layer on this morning before heading up the lift. At least it's not as bad as Mega.

The mountains have yet to fully reveal themselves. Clouds had come and gone throughout the day delivering blowing snow freezing winds and glimpses of jagged peaks.
  The mountains have yet to fully reveal themselves. Clouds had come and gone throughout the day, delivering blowing snow, freezing winds, and glimpses of jagged peaks.

Bits of blue sky this afternoon offer hope of a warmer drier day tomorrow.
  Bits of blue sky this afternoon offer hope of a warmer, drier day tomorrow.



30 Comments

  • 18 0
 That slash actually looks fun as hell
  • 26 0
 did they build it up from scratch?
  • 2 12
flag lozzerbiker (Jul 10, 2014 at 23:06) (Below Threshold)
 Nope it is just it's own bike
  • 2 0
 @chyu - I see what you did there...
  • 5 0
 @Lozzerbiker: You clearly didn't get the joke...
  • 10 0
 Gotta love the high country! Never know what kind of weather you're going to get. I think that's one of the main reasons I like the EWS, the locations are stunning.
  • 6 0
 Wragg,stop messing around show us which ibis team life cycle is running this race...
  • 3 0
 PLEASEEEE!!! MAAAANNN!!!! either theirs or Anne Caro's!
  • 1 0
 Will it not be the Mojo?
  • 1 0
 Seriously! The perfectly concealed teaser shots have been a great lead up to this weekend’s race.
  • 1 0
 What teaser shots? Links?
  • 5 0
 As soon as I finish my apprenticeship, I'm moving to Italy!
  • 4 0
 Aosta valley is a stunning part of the world. Would be a good place to be based all year round for mountain fun.
  • 1 0
 Any process-stream industry nearby? Such as metals manufacturing, wastewater treatment, chemical manufacturing or pulp and paper?
  • 2 0
 A lot of hydro electricity plants in this part of the world, lots of deforestation too. I wouldnt be sup prised to find a pulp/paper plant near by.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for the info!
  • 1 0
 How much fun is it to spectate ? I m living 1.5 h from Aosta and considering to go there on the weekend. However looking at the pictures of the last stage of EWS in Valloire it seemed like there was no crowd. Any experience ?
  • 1 0
 very fun
  • 3 0
 Would love to see Dan Atherton fighting at the pointy end for a podium / top 10
  • 4 0
 Good luck Dan!
  • 1 0
 come on Athy!!!
  • 3 0
 Jared Graves for the win!
  • 4 2
 Yeah... TREK SLASH NICE BIKE.
  • 1 0
 Great pics and taster of whats to come, gonna be a cracking weekends racing!
  • 1 0
 Planibel hotel Smile and please don't buy those crappy Ferrari die-cast models!
  • 1 0
 In picture where is Jerome Clementz, this other guy have green cloth, can someone tell me what companies cloth are these?
  • 1 0
 That's Jerome's girlfriend: Pauline. And that's Mavic clothes
  • 1 0
 That meat platter looks bomb, oh yea, head angle, crazy
  • 1 0
 Dan’s back, happy days!
  • 1 0
 :O what a landscapes !!!

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