There were many things that were supposed to go into tonight's intro, talking about how long the race is, how good the tracks are, how stunning the scenery is... But that has all been overshadowed now. At the top of the timing sheets is the kind of epic dogfight that people talk about in the wee small hours of the morning after more than a few too many drinks, the kind of battle that should have racing nerds breaking out in a cold sweat. Nico Vouilloz and Sam Hill are trading seconds, fighting for the win. Read that again and let it sink in... The greatest downhill racer of all time, versus arguably the greatest bike handler mountain biking, has ever seen. Two riders we never really got the chance to see go head-to-head at a World Cup, but this weekend, here in the high mountains of Valberg they are pushing each other all the way. Just 1.57 seconds separates them as things stand and with four stages tomorrow there is still a long way to go in this duel.
With all this excitement it is easy to miss that Canadian rising star, Jesse Melamed, is showing the world that his second in Whistler last time out is solid pace, as he lies a further six seconds back in third. In the women's race, Cecile Ravanel is out front once more, but Isabeau Courdurier is keeping the pressure on her, winning the first stage and keeping the advantage to just over six seconds this evening - as tight as it has been in a long time. Anita Gehrig rounds out the overnight provisional podium. In the under-21 race Adrien Dailly holds a commanding lead as his main rival, Seb Claquin, faltered today and went down on each of the three stages. But there is a long way to go tomorrow and if the tracks are anywhere near as slippery as they were in practice, anything could still happen...
/ @davetrump / @EnduroWorldSeries