Throwback Thursday: Enduro of Nations 2011, Sauze D'Oulx

Sep 30, 2021
by Matt Wragg  

As Innerleithen gears up for the final EWS race this weekend, what better time to look back on where the sport has come from? I have been telling people recently that I believe enduro is the biggest change to mountain biking in my riding life, so what better way to get a handle on how big a thing it has been than by looking at how the sport looked before it reached the mainstream? Sauze D'Oulx marked a big step for the burgeoning discipline, it was the first time the Trophy of Nations was ever held outside of France.

The Enduro of Nations is significant for me personally too, it was my first paid job for Pinkbike. 10 years ago I was a bike guide who had waved a camera around a couple of times, but let's not put too fine a point on it - I had no idea what I was doing. Today, I'm not entirely sure how I came to convince Pinkbike to pay me for the weekend, but I probably owe Julian Coffey a beer for doing it.

Armed with a Canon Rebel, the lens it came with, and very little grasp of how to make them do what I wanted, this is the result (although I have had a little re-edit). Looking through it, I find it useful reminder - sure, the photos aren't great, but I worked my ass off that weekend, running around town late each evening to make sure there was content to go out. I'm almost certain the reason I'm here today to write this was my work ethic (I produced ten articles over the space of a week), and that is something I try not to forget.

So buckle up and let's have a look at how the best enduro racers in the world looked in 2011. Although this weekend was when a certain Martin Maes came to the world's attention, at just 15 years destroying most of the men's field to grab top 5 scratch, I can't find a single image of him or the actual results sheets.

Sauze D'Oulx lies just West of Turin in northern Italy - there was a brief period when it made an attempt to become a big MTB destination, even sponsoring the Athertons for a season or two, but these days it seems to have given up on the project.

The Superenduro team always knew how to put on an event.

Some things are constant, like Nico Vouilloz being at the forefront of changes to racing.

The Godfather of Enduro, Fred Glo, heads out to check out the course on his trials bike.

Sauze D'Oulx was famous for two things - first was the high alpine meadows at the top of the resort...

Second was the larch forest below, with fast, flowing singletracks carrying you all the way down to the lifts.

Cin - back then riders were less shy about grabbing a beer after practice.

Jerome Clementz was already the name to watch.

While Team GB was made up of James McKnight, Rowan Sorrell and Al Stock.

Overnight the weather took a turn for the worse and Sundays racing was under the rain.

Jerome Clementz was not even slight phased by the muddy conditions, even if my camera was...

You have to feel for this poor fella.

In the years to follow, Jerome would get quite familiar with this feeling (and I bought cameras with working autofocus)

And finally, the great Italian photographer Matteo Cappe - the following year I would become part of the Superenduro team and I learnt so much working with him.


  • 32 1
 How can they ride Enduro with backpacks, 26” wheels and only 34-36 stanchions? Surely all the bikes broke and they died due to a lack of water bottles?
  • 19 0
 Shockingly, back then those backpacks were filled with water.
  • 6 0
 @mikekazimer: that’s crazy, a bagful of water, surely some kind of container would be better? It’ll never catch on ;-).
  • 7 0
 @mikekazimer: From the "no one uses a water bottle any more" and we all bought backpacks era to the "I won't buy a frame without a bottle cage inside the front triangle" era to the "I need a hip pack cuz my jersey doesn't have pockets" era. Fun to have lived through it all! Bikes these days, so good...
  • 5 0
 Enduro in 2011: big backpacks, little forks.
  • 3 0
 @Speeder01: the fickle world of MTB fashion. Bags will be the new best thing in 18 months time.
  • 1 0
 @CustardCountry: put shoulder straps on the hip packs and then just slowly increase the size, no one will notice.
  • 3 0
 @hexhamstu: Just keep doing what you do, you’ll be bang on trend every decade or so
  • 2 0
 Still sporting my Osprey Camelback. And I carry everything I will never use, and sometimes water. I hate cleaning the inside of camelback water pouch so I don't always use it. Pretty useful overall. Smile Maybe in the next year or so Ill latch onto the newest trend for the next 10 years. My wallet wont let be hip every year.
  • 1 0
 @bmar: I think imm still using the same pack I had when I was last in Sauze D’Oulx!
  • 12 0
 Came here looking for oversized jerseys with white accents, huge backpacks, XC shoes (or gigantic Shimano AM ones) and enormous seat tubes.

Didn't disappoint
  • 3 0
 A friend and I were fortunate enough to stop by Sauze D'Oulx on the way home from the Val di Sole World Cup in 2015. Unfortunately we had weather similar to the race day shown here and they closed the lifts! We pedaled up to do a run and came down what I still think is the slippiest bike park track I have EVER ridden. Perhaps we were unlucky with the trail we chose but it was a very clay heavy soil that immediately smeared if you so much as looked at your brake lever. I'd love to go back one day and ride it in the dry as I'm convinced it would be absurdly fast rolling once hard-packed.
  • 1 0
 it’s a really nice little park, too bad they open only for like 6-7 weeks these days
  • 1 0
 Never been to Morzine when it rains then! The tracks at Sauze are a great warm up on sunny days, some even manage to feel quite natural, rather than the huge machined berms of some of the bike parks.
  • 2 0
 You need to catch Sauze on an in-between day - on rainy day you slide a little more than is fun, but when it bakes hard you get so much chatter, those perfect ribbons of dirt you see from the lift shake the fun out of your body. But a day or so after a good storm is magical...
  • 4 0
 these are cool pictures. its crazy to see how much bikes and even style have changed over the years.
  • 5 0
 Holy backpacks Smile
  • 4 0
 maxxis Swamp things, these tires rides good.. love these throwback pics!!
  • 1 0
 A fellow Swamper! Back in the days i was amazed how well they ran i most conditions
  • 1 0
 @Becciu: I remember leaving a 2.5 Swamp Thing on the front of my big bike all year because I got bored of swapping tyres every ride due to unpredictable UK weather. That and a 2.2 Wet Scream on the rear with the centre knobs trimmed short. They worked quite well in the SW of England and Wales.
  • 2 0
 This was amazing, I started following and racing Enduro in 2017, and seeing the roots of the sport is fascinating. More of these please.
  • 1 0
 Was this a similar format to the current stage races? I remember a day where the top three climbing times got downhill time reductions.
  • 2 0
 Never thought about wearing a tyre as necklace.
  • 2 0
 Quite a dangerous thing to do,if you grab something your out of the bike by the neck. Not a very smart choice if you have a backpack.
  • 1 0
 Lotsa Gravity Droppers and KS i900-950's...
  • 1 0
 During this era I had the KS post with the crotch lever. Elegant wasn't even the word.
  • 1 0
 The goat was there.
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