Powered by Outside

Race Report: Megavalanche 2023

Jul 10, 2023 at 8:05
by Chain Reaction Cycles  
photo

Words: ChainReactionCycles

The Megavalanche, one of the most iconic downhill mountain bike races in the world, took place over the weekend on a sun-drenched day in the heart of the French Alps.
In contrast to last year’s race, there was plenty of snow at the top of Pic Blanc, providing a slushy canvas of crashes and carnage as riders hurtled down the mountain bar-to-bar from 3300 metres.

In a closely-fought battle, Frenchman Hugo Pigeon took the win. He attacked the course with remarkable precision and speed, setting a blistering pace from the very beginning. He crossed the finish line in a time of 00:39:34, securing the top spot on the podium.

Damien Oton, just a day after taking the overall win in the E-Mega race, demonstrated remarkable technical prowess as he carved his way down the course. His aggressive riding style and flawless execution earned him a well-deserved second place finish with a time of 00:39:54, seconds behind Pigeon.

photo

Belgian racer Olivier Bruwiere maintained a consistent pace, avoiding any costly mistakes claiming third position on the podium, crossing the finish line with a time of 00:40:55.

Kilian Bron, Megavalanche veteran, known for his explosive starts and daring lines, delivered an impressive performance, finishing in fourth, clocking in at 00:41:42.

Stefan Peter, a rider with a reputation for technical expertise, fought hard to secure a spot among the top finishers claiming the fifth position with a time of 00:41:51.

photo

In the women’s race, Czech rider Barbora Vojta took the top podium spot, crossing the finish line with an impressive time of 00:55:02. Vojta showcased her enduro racing prowess cementing her place at the top of the leaderboard.

Not far behind Vojta, Alba Wunderlin tackled the demanding terrain with impressive skill, pushing her limits and clocking a remarkable time of 00:56:20.

photo

Continental Nukeproof racer Veronika Widman claimed a well-deserved third place, crossing the finish line with a time of 00:58:50.

French racer Laura Simonin posted a time of 01:01:48, coming in fourth place.

Rounding out the top five was Liv rider Mélina Damestoy, with a time of 01:03:01.

photo
Various tactics were on display for dealing with the snow - walking, sliding, 'tripoding'...some even rode it!

photo
As the morning went on, the snow got even more difficult to stay upright on.

photo
As this rider found out...

photo
There's nothing like it on the MTB calendar - mass-start madness!

photo
There were some impressive bikes and bits on display, including this custom-painted Chain Reaction Nukeproof Mega frame.

photo
The downtube with artwork that typifies the Megavalanche.

photo
That snow effect on the chainstay! Stay tuned for more on this one-off frame...

photo
Kilian Bron was one of the favourites for the race, but had to settle with fourth.

photo
Ready to send it into next year's race!



[Images by Laurence Crossman-Emms & Megavalanche]

Author Info:
ChainReactionCycles avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2012
107 articles

72 Comments
  • 70 0
 Here is my 3rd place video of you want to see some of the action.

youtu.be/O0I5iyz43NU
  • 3 0
 Username checks out ! Nice job taking a podium, not easy to do in any race but especially this week one !
  • 2 0
 Amazing riding sir!! You guy's are flat out hauling the mail in some of those spots!!
  • 5 2
 Belgian power Beer
  • 3 0
 Awesome ride Olivier! So good.
  • 1 0
 We gotta tie you up cause you're a loose cannon!!
  • 4 0
 @RedBurn: Let's not forget Gilles Franck 6th place overall and second place in the U30 category.
  • 1 0
 Fantastic race and smart riding in the snow, not to mention running in the snow while pushing the bike must have been brutal. Also warp speed through the gnar on 150 mm bike, hats off to you sir.
  • 1 0
 AAAAAALLLLAAAAAARMMMMMAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!
  • 1 0
 @beeekay: thx!
  • 1 0
 @ChainReactionCycles: Thx! 2nd time in a row on the 3rd spot.
  • 4 0
 @PeroS: The Scott Genius is a beast. Really any trail any time
  • 1 0
 Second time in 3rd but that Reunion win must have felt pretty good.
Smart strategy to let the 'chien mechant' attack your rival

I have a question - do the top riders like yourself have any protected status for the qualifying races at Megavalanche?
What happens for example if the defending champion gets a puncture in qualifying?
  • 3 0
 @tigerfish50: Winning a race is always a good feeling! Podium at the craziest is also pretty good .
There is a list of priority riders. If they don’t qualify, they can start on row D.
  • 1 0
 @bosse: Glad to hear - that makes sense.
Thanks for your video - and all the other guys and girls. Put them together and it's a great portrait of the race. The intensity of the competition combined with the cameraderie and race etiquette is really unique.
Good luck for next year and the rest of the season.
  • 2 0
 @bosse: Hey, I have suggestion for your race videos.
I know there's probably no make-up facility at the Meg finish line, and you're probably not looking your best, but some riders - like Killian etc - turn their GoPros on themselves and offer a few words to their viewers.
Speaking for myself, I feel this builds a connection to the public by putting a human face to these heroic deeds.
  • 36 0
 That blue snow nukeproof would look insane with the new limited edition white marzocchi z1s
  • 13 0
 soon the bikepark season in the alps will go from may to october... snow is leaving the chat.
  • 1 0
 what is the season now in the French Alps? In most of Austria where I usually go, it's already May to October
  • 1 0
 @hardtailpunter: Already May to October in many resorts in Switzerland
  • 1 0
 @hardtailpunter: Most of the French Alps start in June, only the low altitude bike parks in Jura or Vosges mountains open in May.
  • 1 0
 @hardtailpunter: mid june, early september
  • 11 0
 The write up probably could have just said: Chaos. And then included photos.
  • 9 0
 Shoot, noted for next year :-)
  • 7 0
 The event also deserves some pictures showing other sections of the track, away from the snow and even the high alpine loose rocky stuff. There is much more to it than just the stuff way above Alpe d'Huez. Heck, Alpe d'Huez is only halfway and it seems like people think it is chaos and chaos only, which it isn't.
  • 10 0
 Damien Oton's full run. The battle with Hugo Pigeon is insane.
youtu.be/3SehkD7BTVc
  • 2 0
 Amazing footage, epic battle!
  • 4 0
 The Pinkbike article doesn't even try to convey the epic nature of the Pigeon-Oton duel. Very colorless report. Just like the 2022 race, Pigeon managed to ride over the mushy glacial sections building an early lead. Last year he was robbed by a busted derailler soon after the singletrack began.This year Oton clawed back a 10-15 second deficit even before the alpine meadows where he recovered from his efforts by slipstreaming close behind Pigeon. He bode his time on the following climb and then pounced just before the following high speed descent as Pigeon tried to resist his overtake. The final act of the 2023 Meg was as cruel as last year's race where Killian Bron suffered a puncture a couple of kilometers before the finish line. These guys are fantastic athletes - brave, skillful, reckless and precise - as well as possessing the ability to push through the pain barrier.
  • 2 0
 Shame coverage for what could be the most epic bike event... Is got a mix of all cycling disciplines... Then dudes saying Enduro is not engaging on TV... well mass start DH started long long ago and here we are same or worst coverage each year on...
  • 2 0
 This videos have millions on YB and still no one juiced this discipline after 25 years... Except when I was racing it on 2008 with the avalanche trophy tv series but with the technology is available now don't know where are those drone pilots... Just put them into an helicopter following the head of the race
  • 2 0
 @tigerfish50: thanks for proper journalism... We are in shity times of AI journalism seems...
  • 2 0
 @PauRexs: You're absolutely right. It's exactly how AI might report the race if you fed it the results - and subsequently inventing meaningless descriptions of the race narrative.
The videos were available for anybody who took the trouble to view them - and they told the dramatic story of how events unfolded at the front. This lazy approach disrespects the riders in a very bad way. It's particularly disappointing considering the writer of this report - although anonymous - appears to be involved in the sport.
  • 1 0
 @tigerfish50: I hope adverds and subscriptions go soon back to proper content quality creators
  • 7 2
 Weird write up that smells of robots. Super generic description of podium positions without mentioning what actually happened, like the epic battle between 3 then 2 and the flat that robbed Oton of the win.
Super sick course. The women course is a bit disappointing tho in how short and less technical it is.
Check out Oton’s and Widman’s POV on YouTube for great runs.
  • 1 0
 AFAIK women and men race the exact same course. At least that was the case, the last 5 times I took part in the Megavalanche. Are you sure you've watched Widman's race and not the qualifier?
I have neither, tbh, and please enlighten me, if the women's race should indeed take place on a different course than the men's.

But yes, the captions are... weird.
  • 2 0
 @Morrrice: the Mega Ladies race was on the Saturday, while the men raced on Sunday. Both on the same course Vero’s race run is incredible - check it out on the Nukeproof YouTube channel.
  • 1 0
 @ChainReactionCycles: Yes, that's what I thought and how it has been the last times I attended the Megavalanche.
Saturday:
E-Bike, Ladies, Mega Challenger (2nd fastest qualifier group), Mega Affinity 1 (4th fastest qualifier group)
Sunday:
Megavalanche (fastest qualifier group), Mega Amateurs (3rd fastest qualifier group), the rest.

All on the same course.
  • 1 0
 I think you mistook Vero Widman's qualifying run on YouTube for the Ladies Meg race
  • 2 0
 @Morrrice: my bad, yup that’s the top vid for some reason that showed up when I looked for the women’s race.
  • 4 0
 Are there rules against modifying your bike to take skis? Like somethind that could attach and then later be folded away or strapped to a backpack. I feel like a ski-bike could rocket you out in front of the back right at the begining.
  • 4 0
 We discussed a similar thing after the race - like a stabiliser set of skis for the downslope! The initial boost is probably outweighed (literally) when you have miles of trails to take on with extra load…fun though :-)
  • 3 0
 @ChainReactionCycles: The snow looked softer than I can ever remember seeing it. Isn't it normally freshly groomed for the main race?
  • 1 0
 @commental: yep it’s groomed for the main race but there were clear blue skies and the sun was doing its thing! It was freezing up there on Saturday morning, but Sunday main race was glorious.
  • 7 1
 Climate change.
  • 2 0
 Oton was free and clear to do the double (emaga & mega) but punctured, Hugo only took the lead on the very last climb. Gutting! almost a repeat of 2022 when Killian Bron punctured in almost the same place.
  • 4 1
 Does anybody ever ride it on a fatbike? I haven't watched a lot of coverage, but never seen one.
  • 9 0
 Interesting strategy. I wonder if it would survive the rocks though?
  • 5 0
 Yes, i know somepeople have using the Fatbike to race the mega.
  • 2 0
 @dhnewbie: did they puncture?
  • 11 0
 in all that loose snow they probably would offer next to no advantage. In my experience a regular tire is better in the rutted out mess like that, you basically just gotta choose a rut and hold on. if it were a firm snowpack it might offer benifits on the snow portion, but ultimately the weak sidewalled tires and the more "xc" geometry of most fatbikes would make them a poor tool the second they got to the rock and singletrack.
  • 6 0
 Considering that most of the race is on dirt, I would assume that the insane rolling resistance of fat tires would put them at a disadvantage overall.
  • 5 0
 There were a few fat bike riders but as another commenter has said - they’re only useful at the glacier because below that are plenty of rocks, singletrack, switchbacks etc.
  • 5 0
 One of my bikes is a weird ass full suspension fatbike (Salsa Bucksaw) and I'd agree with others that it probably isn't the best tool for this job. Fat tires work great on nicely groomed hard snowpack, but suck just as bad as anything else on fluff and ruts. You can get a super-low-rolling-resistance tire like the Jumbo Jim, but it has paper sidewalls. I'm not acutely aware of any fat tire with a decent DH-ish sidewall construction.

All that said, someone should take a 150mm+ travel Foes Mutz or Lenz Fatillac down the Megavalanche and see how it goes, because the dumbest ideas are the best ideas.
  • 2 3
 I believe they do at the MAGAvalanche.
  • 2 1
 @suspended-flesh: I don't get it.
  • 14 0
 @suspended-flesh: in which every rider comes in last, claims victory, and blames dissenting opinions on a visible minority!
  • 2 0
 I got overtaken by a Fatbike a few years ago in the Mountain of Hell race
  • 3 0
 @ponyboy24: Nothing to be ashamed of - we've all ridden a torta.
  • 2 0
 Veto’s qualifying race is (excuse the pun) mega to watch! You can her her heart break, and then full on charging down the hill getting back to 9th! Awesome effort!
  • 2 1
 Again soft snow this year, it's super hard and not fun at all. The start needs to be earlier,like 7h30 so we can have firm snow.
  • 3 0
 They unfortunately were super slow with the lift this year. Only weak point in this year's organization... To be fair though, they can't start if the snow is hard. During Thursday's training it was way too icey at 9:20, and that will just be even more dangerous than it already is. It was still a lot of fun for us in the top 20, but I can imagine it was super hard if you're not in the front bunch.
  • 2 0
 Bucket list ride , speaking as an antipodean.
  • 3 0
 Every mountain biker NEEDS to do this race at least once!
  • 2 0
 @ponyboy24: I’ve seen enough carnage over the years of people full speed running into each other in the top section that I’d never do it. I guess I’m a pussy in my older age.
  • 1 0
 @nvranka: It's not as frightening as it looks,because almost all you see is the first rows,things are pretty more slow and "calculated" in the middle of the pack.
I've done it 7 times and plan to be back someday,even approaching 50yo.
  • 1 2
 @nvranka: yup, you are definitely a pussy haha
  • 1 0
 Its really painful, but feeling when you stop at Alemond is priceless.

youtu.be/GctX0B1JhOo
  • 1 0
 Mega congrats to Barbora!
  • 1 0
 Where's Hugo's POV race vid?
I guess he's still hung over
Below threshold threads are hidden







Copyright © 2000 - 2024. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv56 0.039372
Mobile Version of Website