Pinkbike Primer: Everything You Need to Know Before the EWS Loudenvielle Double-Header

Sep 1, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  

After a long break left by the cancellation of EWS Whistler, we're back to EWS racing in France, and we're looking forward to seeing what the French riders can do on home soil. The riders are at a new venue this time, and after spending time at home recharging, training, and (for many) racing national championships, they should be ready to take on the wide range of trails they'll encounter this week.

The Venue

The Loudenvielle race venue will make its debut at these two EWS rounds, serving up high mountain riding in the Pyrenees all the way down into the woodsy steeps for a good mix of rough, open fast stuff and techier, precise riding. Riders will to take on raw, natural trails despite the bike park setting, but will have a gondola and chairlift combo to help out with some of the transitions. Located in the south of France, Loudenvielle is a popular tourist destination with a lake and two ski resorts.

The Format

It is a long way down in the first stage
Photo: Marie Batista

The two Loudenvielle races will use the same format over five days as the other EWS rounds so far this year: practice day, race day, rest day, prologue day to start the next race, and final race day.

Like the Italian double-header EWS races earlier this year, the two Loudenvielle races will send riders down more or less the same stages in each race, but one stage from the first race will be retired before the second and a new one will be added for Race #2 that will be raced twice, first as a pro-only prologue stage Saturday and again as the final stage Sunday.

The Stages

PRIVILEGE: 5.0km / 845m descent

The first race will start with a scenic yet demanding lift-accessed descent through the bike park. Privilege is a long high-altitude trail with a remote feel that will include short, physically taxing climbs and plenty of rough stuff, dropping down to connect with a steep, wooded trail called Six Pack. This will be Stage 1 for the first race and Stage 4 for the second.

POURTICOU: 1.0km / 330m descent

Pourticou keeps riders down into the trees, sending them through raw, playful terrain that looks akin to what riders have seen on the other woodsy EWS race stages so far this season. Pourticou will be Stage 2 for the first race and Stage 3 for the second.

DOLMENS: 3.8km / 800m descent

Dolmens is a varied, physical track that starts fast and open before sending riders into the woods and into some very tight, steep sections. Riders will access it via the longest non-lift transfer of the day, which will take them up 760m over 12 km. Dolmens drops riders out near Loudenvielle's central lake, which riders can hopefully enjoy a bit before taking on the rest of the race. Dolmens will be Stage 3 and the queen stage in the first race and will not be included in the second race.

VAL D'AUBE: 4.2km / 900m descent

After finishing Dolmens, riders will pedal back to the lifts and ride up to Val d'Aube, which is scenic and high-speed. From near the top of the lift, Val d'Aube drops down a ridge, staying wide-open as it eventually drops off the ridge back down into the valley. This stage will be Stage 4 in the first race and Stage 2 in the second.

LA PIQUE: 4.2km / 620m descent

La Pique is a mix of trails, starting with a moderate, fast trail and dropping down into one of the bike park's classic steep and twisty descents, then crossing over into another of the bike park's best tech trails and finishing down in town. La Pique will be Stage 5 in both the first and second races, but for the second race, riders will continue on to race one more stage. It will be the queen stage in the second race.

TOURTERE: 2.3km / 520m descent

Riders will have to pedal up one last time before the end of the weekend before dropping into Tourtere, another trail in the woods that will bring them back down into town to finish it all off.

The Weather

Flying slates at the end of stage 4
Photo: Marie Batista

In classic European summer fashion, we don't really know what we're going to get this weekend for weather, and it's a coin toss chance of thunderstorms just about every day. Thunder and lightning bode poorly for riders who will spend their time on high mountains and lifts, but luckily the weather looks a bit brighter for the weekend.

Wednesday, September 1 - Practice
Periods of clouds and sun with a heavy thunderstorm; thunderstorms can bring flooding downpours, hail, and damaging wind gusts // 18°C // 55% probability of precipitation // wind 6km/h

Thursday, September 2 - Race 1
Periods of sun and clouds with a heavy thunderstorm; thunderstorms can bring flooding downpours, hail, and damaging wind gusts // 17°C // 55% probability of precipitation // wind 6km/h

Friday, September 3 - Rest Day
Periods of sun and clouds with a couple of showers and a thunderstorm // 17°C // 61% probability of precipitation // wind 6km/h

Saturday, September 4 - Practice and Prologue
Periods of clouds and sun with a thunderstorm in spots in the afternoon // 18°C // 40% probability of precipitation // wind 6km/h

Sunday, September 5 - Race 2
Periods of clouds and sunshine // 20°C // 25% probablility of precipitation // wind 9km/h

Weather forecast as of Tuesday, August 31 from Accuweather.

Seeding List for Race #1

French Enduro Championships 2020

Since we don't have EWS results at this venue to draw from, we'll take a look back at the 2020 French Championship race at this venue last year. Morgane Charre and Melanie Pugin, who have so far excelled at the EWS races this year, took the top two spots less than four seconds apart, with Charre finishing more than 30 seconds ahead of third-placed Isabeau Courdurier. On the men's side, Theo Galy took the win ahead of up-and-coming local Guillaume Larbeyou and the newly-crowned French Champion Alex Rudeau.

Elite Women:

1st. Morgane CHARRE 45:31:713
2nd. Melanie PUGIN +3.782
3rd. Isabeau COURDURIER +30.979
4th. Estelle CHARLES +1:39.091
5th. Morgane JONNIER +2:29.153

Elite Men:

1st. Theo GALY 39:22:911
2nd. Guillaume LARBEYOU +20.259
3rd. Alex RUDEAU +29.988
4th. Nathan SECONDI +46.955
5th. Florian NICOLAI +48.633

What Happened Last Round?

Race 1:

Elite Women

1st. Melanie PUGIN: 27:59.39
2nd. Harriet HARNDEN: 28:22.82
3rd. Andreane LANTHIER NADEAU: 28:25.39
4th. Morgane CHARRE: 28:28.66
5th. Noga KOREM: 28:45.83

Elite Men

1st. Richie RUDE: 23:40.31
2nd. Jack MOIR: 23:42.12
3rd. Adrien DAILLY: 23:55.53
4th. Jesse MELAMED: 24:10.05
5th. Vid PERSAK: 24:17.98

Race 2:

Elite Women

1st. Harriet HARNDEN: 33:42.29
2nd. Melanie PUGIN: 33:43.27
3rd. Isabeau COURDURIER: 33:51.54
4th. Noga KOREM: 33:57.96
5th. Morgane CHARRE: 34:25.62

Elite Men

1st. Jack MOIR: 28:00.23
2nd. Richie RUDE: 28:13.43
3rd. Zakarias JOHANSEN: 28:20.97
4th. Jesse MELAMED: 28:37.91
5th. Kevin MIQUEL: 28:40.08

Pinkbike Predictions

Guillaume Larbeyou knew the trails but was still impressive
Guillaume Larbeyou is a fast local, so he could do quite well here too. Photo: Marie Batista

Jack Moir is so, so fit this season, and with two massive days ahead this week, I think he'll pull off something big once again this week. He and Richie Rude have been battling it out all season so far, and we could see another great race or two as each of them fight for the series lead, which Rude has currently snagged by just five points. The two made history in Val di Fassa with the tightest race in EWS history when Rude ultimately edged out Moir by less than half a second. While it seems natural to pick Rude for second here, I'll actually sneak Adrien Dailly into the mix next. Dailly has shown up consistently this season and is sitting sixth in the rankings, and having that home soil edge could be just what it takes to score him another great race. Rounding it out, my last pick is Richie Rude, well, because he's Richie Rude. Adding to the list of strong contenders, I imagine we'll see Jesse Melamed, Dimitri Tordo, Martin Maes, and perhaps Zakarias Johansen mixing it up at the top as well. Melamed has been quite consistent this season and just keeps getting faster, Tordo will be on home soil and has also had a strong season so far, Martin Maes had the pace in La Thuile and has proved in previous years that when it clicks for him, it really clicks, and Johansen just earned his first EWS podium and looks poised to keep it going.

Melanie Pugin and Morgane Charre both succeeded in Loudenvielle in 2020, finishing just four seconds apart over 45 minutes of racing at the top of the women's field. After the last EWS race in La Thuile, Melanie Pugin took the lead in the overall with Isabeau Courdurier and Hattie Harnden tied close behind. I think after finishing so close to the win last year, Pugin will bring just a tiny bit of extra motivation and confidence to this race and will take the top step. Next, Morgane Charre has been a strong contender, but hasn't quite ridden up to her potential in the EWS races so far this year, despite showing that she has the pace to hang with the best of them, and she should be close to the top step this season. Finally, I'll stick with a French sweep of the podium in these predictions, mostly because of the unique, rocky terrain France offers and the way the country churns out the world's best riders. Fresh off a victory to take the French national champ title, Isabeau Courdurier continues to show that she belongs on the podium, and I think it'll be a tight race between the top three French women. Clearly it's tough to choose just three riders for either category, and I also want to mention Hattie Harnden and Andreane Lanthier Nadeau. Hattie Harnden became the youngest women's elite winner in EWS history at the last round and very well could take a win at any of the next races. ALN was absolutely on fire that race as well, leading the entire race until a crash in the final stage took her down despite racing on an injured ankle. It would be incredible to see her take the win, as it's been a long time coming and she continues to show time and again that she has what it takes. Update: ALN crashed in practice and has withdrawn from the race. We sincerely hope to see her back on the bike soon and wish her all the best in her recovery.

1 // Jack MOIR
2 // Adrien Dailly
3 // Richie RUDE
1 // Melanie PUGIN
2 // Morgane CHARRE
3 // Isabeau COURDURIER

Fantasy League

It's that time again! Pick your riders for a chance to win prizes. We recommending finalizing your team before the first round to make sure you start the season with some points.

The Fantasy Enduro League is Presented by Maxxis.


  • 53 4
 This 2 day/1day race format is lame and racing the same stages over again is kinda weak. Lets just go back to 2 days of racing over 7-9 stages
  • 5 7
 Just curious why racing the same stages is "weak". I've run some trails 100's of times and getting to know a trail is actually strong vs. weak. Two runs seems like riders would still not really know the trail that well. Conversely (and this ain't gonna every happen) - I bet there would be some very different and wildly changing results if some awesome sections were choose to loop numerous times... just another way of looking at it. I get it though - riding all the possible terrain. Just saying that sometimes riding everything once is actually kinda thin vs. really getting to know trails w/ multiple rides. That doesn't necessarily equate to enduro racing tho, or how it'll ever work.
  • 1 0
  • 18 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: Sorry maybe weak is the wrong word. It just not in the "spirit of enduro" It seem like they're just doing the same race twice kinda if they reuse the stages. I get its easier on the organizers and racers but the point of enduro racing I thought was to ride you bike on a bunch of different stages, not to do a double header type of event. I kinda thought that the 2 day race format was what kinda made it special and a long game race. Now just having back to back single day races make the racing a little less interesting. Just my opinion.
  • 1 1
 @thegromit: Ok, hear ya on that, the easier-on-organizers thing, and long-game. Just discussin'. I'm not really seeing it as less interesting but ya know...we all have our likes. Mostly tho, loving that my comment above already has 5 downs for simply replying / questioning. I guess people really do hate to hear anything they don't like.
  • 5 0
 @thegromit: Im thinking that this double header thing is purely a COVID related thing. It reduces the travel and impact of more locations but still allows them to give out more points and thus makes the series more interesting instead of basing it off of 3 weekends. My hope is that once all of this eventually calms down we go back to more destinations. Given how far reaching 2019 was for locations and # of races, it seems likely that will be the case.
  • 1 0
 @wilsonians: WEAK! Just kidding. Yeah, good point.
  • 1 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: I hit the down vote button meaning to hit the reply button.
  • 1 0
 @thegromit: Word. I've been upping everything (even the horrible shit)...just don't care if "offensive" or other BS posts are here or not. Seems like the Orwellian Fuzz is out & proud here on PB lotsa the times...tho the disdain for DblCrownAddict does seem well justified.
  • 4 0
 Yep the original spirit of enduro was to take the stages "blind" no practice run on the race stages.
  • 1 0
 @fautquecaswing: Yip...entirely forgot about that. So many factors here ya know
  • 10 0
 Never bet against Richie.
  • 3 0
 The time put into uploading the race course in Trailforks paid off. Don't understand how the EWS is using ArcGis for this, you can't do anything with that, no track to download, can't follow it, nothing. And not to mention the ArcGis license is close to 1k euros. Its gonna be a good race with the wet terrain.
  • 2 0
 Well done article - more than well done. Guessing Redbull isn't covering this one...

Loving the weather for Race Day #1 tho:

"Periods of sun and clouds with a heavy thunderstorm; thunderstorms can bring flooding downpours, hail, and damaging wind gusts // 17°C // 55% probability of precipitation // wind 6km/h"

Def'ly not my jam. Pass on entering this one...
  • 7 0
 Sometimes the weather descriptions crack me up. I'm working on the Lenzerheide one now and the weather forecasted for Thursday is "Delightful with periods of sun." I love it. I refuse to change a word. Accuweather, man
  • 5 0
 @alicialeggett: Europe really needed this boost after the Dark Ages
  • 3 0
 Do racers get shuttled to every stage during EWS practice days? If not, that's an insane amount of climbing. Maybe not for this race - seems like most of the stages are lift-access, but in general it's a lot of climbing.
  • 2 0
 look at the race course, they have a mix of chairlifts to Privilege and Val d'Aube stages and pedaling to Dolmens and Tourtere in the other side of the valley, plus short pedaling sections to the smaller stages
  • 1 0
 Martin is gonna smoke them all!
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