As Risoul and Thollon-les-Memises, Les Houches was another new venue on the Enduro Series calendar. This 4th round closed the 2021 season in an epic place as we speak about the Chamonix Mont Blanc area.
The people from Les Houches are not used to Mountain Bikes events and it seems like it was not easy for the staff to organise this race. But during the podium ceremony on Sunday, the Mayor was quite happy about what just happened in her town and was already speaking about next year!
The 290 riders had to battle on 4 different stages during 7 timed sessions over the week-end with the help of the gondola to access to 3 of the stages. There was no E-Bike race, but the young Minimes riders (13-14 years old) had the chance to compete on Saturday using a part of the stages. It was such a good time to see some young kids (34) racing on this kind of steep and technical trails. Some of them fell in tears at the end of the 1st stage and after several crashes, but in the end they all deserved the gold medal in everybody's heart! What an adventure for them all!
The week was heavily rainy before the race, so even with a beautiful sunny Saturday, all the trails were wet and slippery, living no chance to the tourists on wheels! But fortunately I didn't see a lot of tourists competing this week-end, and the level of riding was quite high. The incredibly talented Cadet rider Raphael Giambi left no chance to the others winning this round and the 2021 overall in his category, and finishing 5th at the scratch overall of the season at only 14 years old. Impressive! For her 1st Enduro Series race, Juliette Willmann won here in Les Houches, which is quite impressive too even if she is a local rider (Saint Gervais). Oh, she took the 2nd place at the EWS 100 in Crans-Montana, and she is a ski athlete on the Freeride World Tour... So yes, this 24 years old woman is talented and we should see her on a bike next year on more races. Axelle Murigneux took the 3rd place this week-end and won the 2021 title in the Women category.
In the Men's field, the battle was quite hard for the 1st place, and it's finally Ludovic Oget who took the win with a total time of 37"40.96 minutes, and he also won the 2021 overall. The 5 riders behind him finished in the same minute making the battle quite tight! With the rain coming just at the end of the very last stage on Sunday, we finally were lucky with the weather. And as the very last meters of this stage 6 were very steep and slippery, the crowd (90% made by the riders) came to cheer, encourage and yell all those warriors who passed through this section without falling off their bike. That made the end of this week-end and epic end of the Enduro Series season with an ambiance we can only see during the big international races.
See you in 2022 with more races in beautiful places in France.