Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography



2016 Megavalanche


Saint Paul, La Reunion

Words and photos by Andy Lloyd
Le Cirque de Mafate, an amazing backdrop to the race.



It's the end of the season and that means only one thing for the French enduro scene...the tiny Indian Ocean island of La Réunion and the southern Hemisphere edition of the Megavalanche. Last week saw the annual mass start brawl return, this time not only with enduro rivalry, but a multi-discipline clash with a touch of a sibling face-off!

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Remy Absalon has already won this race six times.
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Julien Absalon - five world championships and two Olympic gold medals in cross country...

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Julien Absalon is definitely not out of place on an enduro bike!

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Another fish out of water...or maybe not, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot 2015 cross country and cyclo-cross world champion.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
The ultimate enduro racer Jerome Clementz.


Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Both Clementz and R. Absalon hit this steep wheel breaking lava section at full tilt.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Winner of the Megavalanche Alpe d'Huez Pauline Dieffenthaler, favourite for the women's race.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Sibling rivalry? Julien leads out Remy during practice.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Clementz on the edge of grip and the edge of a very high drop into the Mafate.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
R. Absalon knows this track like the back of his hand and with only a few minor changes this year few would bet against him.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Remy precise through the technical step section.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
German EWS rider Max Schumann flat out in the dust.

This year's mega track remained mostly unchanged from the last few aside from a few (fun) deviations in the upper woods for safety reasons. The lava from the start being as brutal as ever and the woods deep in dust all the way down made for some interesting conditions if you were further back in the field. The climbs in the middle actually provide some respite for tenderised arms before the brutal flat out fast lower sections finish them off. This mega track is probably more technically and physically demanding than it's alpine counterpart and all in much higher temperatures, although it was cool by Réunion standards this year.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Schumann getting to grips with the dry (even for Reunion) conditions.
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
One of a handful of sections which aren't going to beat you up.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
The top wooded section is generally always dry but the clouds build through the morning.
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Multiple line choices on pretty much every technical section.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Clementz with some style on a relaxed practice run with the top guys.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Attempting to find a new angle on this feature.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
The old one is definitely the best!

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
One of the fast technical sections that was altered for safety reasons during practice.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
The driest of the lower woods section has been for a good few years. Rider Vincent Haulet's wheel was held together with superglue by the end of the week.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Reunion local Alex Sicard converting a V10 to enduro mode...probably a wise choice on this track.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
A break from the flat out fire road sections mid-course, with some fresh cut sugar cane tunnels.


Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Schumann sideways...again.
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Get your line wrong here and your knuckles WILL feel it.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
End of practice stroll at Boucan Canot.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Qualifying returned to the multi-stage enduro format this year...stage one was an absolute corker!

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Pauline Dieffenthaler practice on the super fast stage two of qualifying.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Clementz picking is way down stage three.
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Temperature and vegetation have changed significantly by the time you get this far down qualifying.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
The view 2000 metres down to race HQ at Saint-Gilles from qualifying start.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Sicard getting prepped.
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Road warm up.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography

This year the organisers went back to a traditional(ish) three stage enduro format, albeit with riders starting in motos of three. Stage one was an absolute epic, fourteen minutes and 8km of amazingly varied terrain. Starting on the flat out solidified lava that you were lucky to get through with air in your tyres and/or wheels in one piece - the faster you go the easier it makes it, but the less likely you to come through it! Jerome Clementz fell foul of the brutal stuff about ten metres in and spent the rest of the day trying to get back on terms in order to be near the front for the main event. After the lava comes a sublime wooded singletrack interspersed with technical root and stepped sections. A short road sprint follows this then things turn a lot steeper again, all in over tyre deep dust and loam. For qualifying the dust was still there but the roots had turned greasy in the morning mist making for some interesting times in the jungle.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Stage one roots - these after ten minutes plus of lava, loam and a lot more roots!

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Remy picking his way through.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
One of the local favourites Chrisophe Payet.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
An unrelated Payet...this time 2016 downhill bronze medalist Florent.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
When two worlds collide, XC vs DH, Flo chats to Julien at the start of stage two qualifying.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Clementz chats about his puncture five seconds into stage one qualifying.
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Gracia is always amongst friends in Reunion.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Sicard leads out Remy for stage two qualifying.
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Clementz try to make up time.

Stage two was an all out old school three-way downhill sprint along the wide double track paths through the sugar cane fields. Some of the corners being flat and tricky, again with deep dust and some having natural berms to keep you on course. All of this was academic in the end as a fair amount of course cutting through said fields was witnessed and the stage was declared void in the interests of fairness.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
XC beats DH in this stage two moto... Julien leads Flo.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Threes up on a naturally formed berm through the sugar cane.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Les Absalons.
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Gracia in good spirits as ever.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Alex Sicard leads Remy on the final stage of qualifying.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Max Schumann always fast and happy.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Gracia heading to the end of qualifying in style.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
The Pauline's - Ferrand-Prevot leads Dieffenthaler here, things would be the other way around come the Mega proper.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Reunionnaise art near the finish of qualifying.

After a long downhill road liaison stage three was in the sweltering heat a stone's throw from the sea. Weaving through through rock strewn grassland area near the coast, the top section picking its way through lava boulders and tight turns. After a very short fireroad climb it was into some sweet flowing singletrack before a sharp turn into a water culvert and the finish. Remy took qualifying by just one second from local Sicard with Gracia 45 seconds behind in third after stage two had been discounted due to some shenanigans further down the field.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
A nice spot for a press conference.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Payet, Payet, Sicard and Remy, the locals check out the competition.
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Top qualifiers are presented to the crowd on the beach, Julien Absalon takes his place on the front row.
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Beach presser.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Final bike prep down at Village Corail.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
The scale of this place is on another scale!

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Pauline Dieffenthaler.
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Florent Payet.

Due to lack of numbers, the ladies started at the front of the challengers race rather than having a start of their own which lead to a bit of worry from a couple of them. This was unfounded in the end as the two Paulines lead out the men and stayed out in front of all but a couple of them for the duration of the race. Enduro specialist Pauline Dieffenthaler coming in about 45 seconds ahead of XC, CC and road all-rounder Pauline Ferrand-Prevot. It was always going to go down to these two but in the end Pauline Dieffenthaler had the edge on such technically demanding track.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Tactics?
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Remy psyching out the opposition?

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Sicard gets out front for the mass start with everyone aiming for the same quick inside line.

The men's race had a fair bit of leader changing, but one man was very much in control and riding within his considerable limits. Once out in front whenever someone got near him Remy would turn it up a level and still be in control. Beating the downhillers like Flo Payet on a course this technically brutal and someone as fit as his brother Julien with two not insignificant climbs just underlines what a talented all round bike rider he his. That's seven wins here and twelve Mega wins in total, which is some achievement when you consider how many competitors take part in these races, and just how punishing on bodies and bikes qualifying and the main events are.

After Remy, the ride of the day had to go to second place man Jerome Clementz. Starting on row D (which equals about five rows and 45 riders back) following the puncture he sustain in qualifying, he battled his way back through the field. After trying to stay with him, third place finisher Cedric summed up Clementz as 'fu*king crazy....he was so fast'. Clementz was the only man to get close to Remy and without the effort of having to get through most of the fit and talented field, things may have been a bit tighter.

Italian Davide Sottocornola had a stormer to take fourth and a slightly enraged Sicard took fifth rounded off the podium for what was another amazing end to a week of bike battering action on a big old volcano in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Pauline Dieffenthaler takes the win ahead of Pauline Ferrand-Prevot.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Men's podium - Remy Absalon on top, 2nd Clementz, 3rd Garcia, 4th Davide Sottocornola, 5th Alex Sicard.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography

Later that evening the ensemble of cross country Olympians, world cup racers and enduro stalwarts proved that they really do know how to let their hair down at the end of a race (and season). The food buffet was mainly ignored in favour of the liquid version. Top French mixed with Réunionnais rum drinks later lead to some questionable karaoke and some extremely sore heads come the morning.

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
Beach, bike and Dodo beer!
Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography

Megavalanche La R union 2016 PIC Andy Lloyd www.andylloyd.photography
There is pretty much a sunset like this every night on the west of the island.

Full results here.


MENTIONS: @AndyLloydPhoto




44 Comments

  • + 19
 CG 3rd with a couple of dropped chains and another near-death experience from that ute cutting him off is almost as impressive as Clementz's push up to 2nd.
  • + 20
 and getting 5th pedaling around a V-10 is also pretty impressive.
  • + 5
 Cedric got a little help...
  • + 2
 @purplegorillaz: I heard a fishy story too about an ebike giving him a push just before the guy cut him off with his car, but I don't know if it's true
  • + 2
 @evildos:
It's TOTALLY TRUE, (just i don't know if the guy pushing CG and Sottocornola was on an e-bike or not, but he was off-race & waiting for them with no marshall in sight)

They made a train on a road section, that's the reason why a spectator got to them with his 4x4 to stop them from cheating, with no success.
This guy would have done better taking some pictures of it.
  • + 4
 @ElStig:
A quite modified V10 you can trust me !!
  • + 1
 @ed91: There wasn't any e-bike, and threating someones life is not a good way to behave. Make a picture if there is cheating an talk to marshals, but bangin with a 4x4 in to bikers omg, i hope this guy gets a fine or something...
  • + 1
 @b-wicked: I agree that whatever the reason, the driver over reacted. He could have injured a racer in a way or an other, by doing this...
  • + 1
 @b-wicked: I was not there, but i personaly know the 4X4 driver, no pictures were taken, so the organization had a laugh at it.
It's just a regional race you know.
  • + 17
 Wow some of the most beautiful race photography I've seen, stellar job
  • + 12
 That V10!
  • + 6
 Bike check on the V10 Please. Im just wondering what drive train it had. All that travel with the wide range cassette (I am assuming for all the pedalling), must be a super long chain with all that travel!
  • + 4
 V10cc frame, Fox float x2 spécial setting, Fox36 180 forks, Acros external headset, 27,5 Astérion wheels with ceramic bearings, Carbon Race Face cranks with ceramic BB, avec 34t ring, Time carbon Ti pedals, Sram xx1 chain, Sram x01 derailleur, trotter Sram xx1, cassette Sram XG1195, Saint+Xtr breaks 203mm, Enve 780mm bars, Ergon GE1 grips, OnOff stem 30mm, KS Lev seatpost, SLR ti seat, MRP SXg carbon chain guide, Ti screws every where.
  • + 4
 Rear travel is limited to 185 max with his enduro settings.
  • + 1
 Grrrr .... Sram XX1 shifters @ Saint brakes ...
  • + 1
 @ed91: Cheers for that! Sound like a beast of an enduro bike
  • + 2
 I think Santa Cruz just got themselves the new Nomad!
  • + 2
 ...
  • + 2
 ...
  • + 1
 @AndyLloydPhoto: sick looking bike!
  • + 7
 waiting for nino schurter to destroy them all some day ina an enduro race! ????
  • + 3
 He already entered at least a big enduro race: EWS in Finale and had respectable times (wayyyyy better than mine, except on the stage with a mechanic incident Wink ) but he's far of being able to destroy the enduro field. At least at the moment. If he'd focus on it, who knows?
  • + 1
 Shurter won once a maxiavalanvhe beating Remy Absalon in Switzerland... I was 2012 thought
  • + 1
 @Rockingtor: true, I forgot this one. But it's not an enduro format with individual start. He had sucked Absalon ´s wheel till the last turn to take over in the last metters only (I've seen the race as I was in the second level race, the best maxi I ever entered!). So I wouldn't say he destroyed him. Also at the time enduro guys weren't full time pro so quite an unfair comparison.
  • + 2
 @EnduroManiac: I think he just wants to have fun.
  • + 7
 I didn't know Josh Bryceland's mum races enduro!
  • + 1
 looks like she's not too far back either
  • + 3
 some of the most beautiful bike picture layouts I have ever seen. What is with the quality are we seeing 4K?
much respect i really enjoyed it.
  • + 3
 This Pictures would fill up the pinkbike calendar and the photo of the year competition.
  • + 4
 Killer photos, thumbs up for Mr. Lloyd
  • + 1
 Yep, the scenery there is a big help for photographers too !!!
  • + 2
 someone should try live coverage from helicopter, drone, pov cameras... this enduro for sure would be fun to watch on TV.... how many years more do we have to wait...?
  • + 1
 Is this a race report or a debut for the new Cannondale Jekyll?
Not a fan of their geometry but stoked to see a revamp on such
an old shock system.
  • + 1
 PFP 2015 XC WC, CX WC, and 2014 Road WC... Not to mention all the U23 titles...
  • + 2
 Cédric Gracia, not Garcia.
  • + 1
 Undeniably good race, superb photography, best yet of La Reunion.. top tier event for the Frenchies ..Remy 'disparu' Absalon
  • + 1
 Julien did well for his first one, 7th I think!
  • + 1
 It was absolutely not his first one !!!!!!!!!!
  • + 1
 @ed91: Didnt know that. Still good result
  • + 1
 @machine4321: For sure, can't deny it !!!
  • + 1
 Hey, what's this, the fluo-green conspiracy?
  • + 4
 Wear some and become fast! Wink
  • + 2
 Pauline!

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