Specialized-SRAM Enduro Round 6 - Kronplatz

Jul 30, 2013 at 12:53
by Alasdair MacLennan  
The Specialized/SRAM enduro series has a well earned reputation in Europe for some great racing and the hope was certainly for more of the same in the Italian ski town of Kronplatz. It sounds German, and for good reason as this part of Europe used to belong to Austria rather than residing within the Italian borders as it does now. It makes for an interesting first attempt at conversing with the locals until you figure out what language you should be using, but from then concentration switches to both the racing, and the stunning landscape.

Warm weather, chairlifts for some although definitely not all of the climbing, and a great mixture of trails; the perfect combination. It was the first time an Enduro event had been held in the area, and was therefore a great unknown for many riders. However, with the main chairlift running to a height of 2275m from the valley floor below, plenty of descending was definitely on the cards. Five stages on Sunday and a short prologue on the Saturday evening all had their own feel and helped find a great all round rider. Stage one was fast and flowy, with a severe climb from half way onwards that left you almost at the height you started. Maybe a little too much pedalling if truth be told, but then the other stages were relatively low on the pedal input so when taken in context of the whole event it was fairly reasonable. After a ride back to the arena, a quick drink and some food or gels, it was time to grab the chairlift to the top of the mountain. From there stages two and three then dropped you over the other side of the ridge and through some stunning alpine meadows and natural forest, with nothing but human power to get you back to the top of the next stage. In the heat it was hard, very hard, and the organisers were thoughtful enough to provide plenty of water and energy rich bananas at the end of stage three before the long slog back up for stage four. Four and five were then bike park territory, with berms, woodwork and jumps. Excerpts of the 7km long Herrensteig trail, they picked the best parts and made for some fast paced riding. The following images are all courtesy of Christoph Bayer:

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Sun, sun, sun. Kronplatz is a beautiful place, and what better way to explore the area than with an Enduro? Gustav Wildhaber was certainly getting excited at the prospect of going riding on the trails this weekend.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Registration was a smooth and well oiled machine, or at least it was until the Brits turned up. Last minute requests for entries, and some dodgy German translations into the mix are all part and parcel of travelling around Europe for a summer of racing. Fifty euros duly handed over as a safety deposit against the timing transponder and you werere ready to go. Nothing beats having a large note stuffed back into your hand on Sunday afternoon to go and spend on food and drink. Somehow it seems like free money once you're done racing.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Many European events run prologues on the Saturday night. While some use the results for seeding, others treat them as a stage that's also a bit of fun. This time it was the latter, with a sub minute sprint round a short loop that was all within sight of the start-finish line. A climb, a run up a flight of stairs, and then a return through the skills course. Three, two, one...GO!

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  The prologue's short sprint to the flight of stairs may have been less than 100m, but it was still enough to separate out those who had been training from those who hadn't. Gustav Wildhaber was a class act and stamped his authority all over the climb, and despite seeming to lose out in the final few corners, held out to take the prologue win.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Cube's Laura Brethauer won Saturday's prologue stage by a couple of tenths. Here she is checking out how the competition is riding prior to her run round the course...

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  ...and back in riding gear, on her winning run through the prologue's final turns. None of the stage was difficult, and it was super short. But it was also great fun, and was a great crowd pleaser.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  It may have been short, and half of it may have been on tarmac but that didn't mean no spills. Antje Kramer carried a little too much speed into the final corner as many others also did and paid the price, lowsiding into the gravel.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Not long after this shot was taken, the clouds rolled in further and the rain started to fall. It never became enough to affect the racing but shortly after the final rider crossed the line the heavens really opened up and the deluge didn't shut off until well after midnight.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Sunday morning and riders are set off in groups of ten. It's a fairly leisurely way to kick start the day and while there was a prize for the fastest round the loop, there wasn't any pressure to start each stage at an allotted time and you could easily ride round the loop and transfers with your buddies. No bad thing when there's a bi-annual festival going on in the town of Bruneck just a short walk away. Hangovers seemed a common problem on Sunday and many riders welcomed the leisurely racing arrangements.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Friday and Saturday had been perfect alpine days with wall to wall blue skies and a temperature in the thirties (Celcius that is). But Saturday night the storm clouds rolled in and for several hours while we ate dinner, we were treated to some amazing electrical fireworks in the sky, violent hail, and even more violent rain. Rivers were running down the road outside and while there was relish at the thought of riding some greasy trails come morning, there was also a little fear of the unknown. No more so than for stage one which would be ridden before the sun had time to take effect. How would the first climb be? How greasy would the roots be? A racer's head has all manner of thoughts running through it on the inevitable transfer to the start line.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Chairlifts, the civilised way to do enduro. Fret not though enduro fans, the chairlift was only used once and merely brought the opportunity to use a more diverse spread of terrain. It also meant that Friday was definitely a day for running laps of the bike park's Herrensteig trail. Just one of those days; railing dusty corners, throwing up roost and having a great time with a bunch of crazy Germans.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Riding bikes can take you all over the world, and open up the door to some amazing places. For all the beautiful and exotic parts of the world we sometimes long for, you're frequently reminded of just how amazing your doorstep can be. Heavily populated, and heavily impacted by man, the valley floor on the pits side of the mountains was beautiful but definitely not untouched. In contrast the back side of the mountain very much was, save for the chairlifts, and stages two and three were set with low level alpine plants almost obscuring the narrow walking trails that formed their mainstay.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Canyon's Marco Buhler didn't have the best of runs through stage two, running a 1:46 against the fastest time of 1:36 but was just able to keep hold of a top twenty overall finish come the end of Sunday.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  The long slog. It looks pleasant, it looks like a nice Sunday afternoon ride in the country. It's not. By this point in the day, you'd already done the first three stages, and you'd already put no shortage of power through the cranks. The heat was building and the clouds disappearing. But, with just two more stages to go, both 100% downhill, and both one after the other, you knew that the hard work was nearly done.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Taping, or the lack of it is currently a hotly contested issue in the world of enduro. Various arguments are doing the rounds for both the status quo to remain, and for things to become a little more influenced by the downhill side of things. Kronplatz seemed to take a reasonable middleground, offering good lines should you choose to take a bit of risk, yet keeping major cuts in check. It helped give the impression you were riding the mountain rather than a path, and without getting all hippy on everyone, it certainly gives you a feeling of greater freedom.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  What do you do if you're broken, can't ride, and happen to find yourself at a race? Get a saucepan, tape it to your helmet, and get your mate to bang it repeatedly every time a rider goes past of course. What do you mean you've never thought of doing that before?

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Everyone thinks race winners are calm, laid back and completely expect their wins. The look of shock on Anna Brandtner's face when she saw she'd won thankfully proves that not to be the case. She rode well all day, won the final three stages commandingly, and was closer to winning the first two too than any of the other girls got to her in the final three. Come the end of the day her winning margin was nearly thirty seconds, while Birgit Braumann in second had another half minute lead over third.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  The only way is down. Unfortunately, this is only the start of stage three and that meant more climbing still to be done. Luckily the valley floor 1200m down wasn't the destination for the finish line this stage, but even so the shorter climb back up still took its toll on many riders in the heat of Sunday once the mist and haze had burned off.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Antje Kramer has been a common face on the German and European downhill scene for years, and is now making inroads to enduro too. She may not have been quite on the pace of the win, but with nearly double the number of years behind her than that of the overall winner that's perhaps understandable. Not that she'll be thanking us for mentioning it! That aside, she still managed to take the outright win on stage two. This is the start of stage three, a stage she finished second on, just five seconds down on the winner.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Enduro-MTB's Fabien Scholz looks stylish as he rattles the middle of stage three, just one second away from taking the win. Enduro racing is super tight in Europe and with such a spread of stage styles, excelling on one doesn't give any guarantee that you'll be in with a shout of the overall win. Sixth overall was a great result, and even if it was with a time some forty seconds down on that of the winner, was still within touching distance of third place.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Punctures are an inconvenience that many riders are battling with in Enduro; you need downhill strength with trail weight, and not many tyres are able to offer that even with tubeless.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  But while punctures are an inconvenience, crashes are just downright painful, although they're potentially less damaging to your stage time! There was plenty of opportunity for punctures over the weekend, just as there was plenty opportunity to get up close and personal with the ground.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  The hunter and the hunted. Practice is a time to chase friends, team mates and the competition before knuckling down and getting on with the job in hand come race day. Petrik Bruckner seen here in the lead came out of the weekend with second overall, and without a doubt is a man well worthy of chasing for the lowdown on some great lines.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Cube have a strong line up for Enduro and even without Nico Lau in their line up for the weekend (he was at the World Enduro in Colorado) had some big guns still ready to use for Kronplatz. Andre Wagenknecht took third for the Cube Action Team, and without a few crucial mistakes in a few crucial places would have taken second.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Cube's other rider on the podium was Gustav Wildhaber and took the top step with a huge advantage. Enduro riders need technical skill covering a huge range of surfaces and trail types, as well as a massive dose of athletic fitness. Gustav has both and put them to good effect in the Dolomites.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  Stage four was the first of the bike park style trails and here Laura Brethauer rails the upper berms before the trail went into the thicker trees. Overnight rain dampened the trail but didn't turn it to bog and seemed only to improve it by keeping the dust down. Not so much of a problem when riding solo but it was an utter nightmare to follow riders at some points on Friday when the sun started to sink in the sky.

Mens Results:

Results Kronplatz 2013 Men


Womens Results:

Results Kronplatz 2013 Women


Masters Results:

Results Kronplatz 2013 Masters


Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  The men's podium. From left to right; Petrik Bruckner, Andre Wagenknecht & Gustav Wildhaber.

Specialized-SRAM Enduro Series images courtesy of Christoph Bayer
  The women's podium. From left to right; Birgit Braumann, Anna Brandtner & Antje Kramer.

www.enduroseries.net


14 Comments

  • + 10
 What is the best bike to use to maneuver around cattle? I hear the DW Link bikes are better for this, whereas Horst Link bikes are better for outrunning wild pigs.

Debate.
  • + 11
 Neither, single pivots FTW. So much easier to clean all the inevitable shit off them afterwards than fiddly multi pivots.
  • + 4
 Gustav Wildhaber is not Rene Wildhaber's brother, they're not even related.
  • + 2
 Registration was smooth in the morning and a mess a bit later.
....normally brits aren't such a bad influence ;-)
  • + 2
 One of the few bikeparks worth riding in Europe. Hats off to Markus and Michaela for their hard work. Already miss Bruneck
  • + 3
 Will somebody please fill me in on what appears to be an orange GoPro?
  • + 2
 That is no Go Pro - it´s another Action cam that looks pretty much the same.
  • + 1
 haha ok, i couldnt really tell
  • + 2
 Have a look at www.actionpro.de
  • + 2
 Its a Rollei Action cam, German Brand and really good.
  • + 0
 The right woman on last pic looks like "don't you f*cking try unless you are a maso" Smile
  • - 2
 wow that's a big bitch on the right
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