Trans-Savoie 2015 Route: Val d’Isere to St. Gervais.
Total distance: 290km
Total timed descent: 22,590m
Total descent: 30,000m
Number of stages: 30
Final standings after Day Six.
1. Nico Lau – 4:24:23
2. François Bailly-Maître – 4:26:53
3. Jamie Nicoll – 4:30:59
1. Meggie Bichard – 5:36:06
2. Kerstin Kögler – 5:55:26
3. Monika Büchi – 5:58:49
The third edition of the Trans-Savoie Alpine enduro stage race finished at the weekend after crossing some of the toughest mountain biking terrain in Europe. With more Pro riders and more stages than previous editions, the race’s reputation and status is growing annually, and the winners had to ride harder and take more risks than ever to earn the prestigious title of Trans-Savoie Champion.
Nico Lau and Meggie Bichard are the 2015 Champions, and popped the champagne in the men’s and women’s overall competition after riding their Cube and Ibis bikes downhill for around 30,000m to earn the honour.
The week’s racing threw everything from super-steep technical tracks, to varied weather conditions and the pure physical and mental challenge of daily racing at the riders, and the guy from Alsace, France, Nico Lau handled the challenge the best. Nico piloted his 180mm travel Cube Fritzz to an overall win two and a half minutes ahead of his nearest competitor. That sounds like a considerable margin, but Trans-Savoie takes in almost four and a half hours of racing, even for the fastest bike handlers in the world.
Nico’s race strategy worked perfectly – he simply upped the pace in the first days’ racing on the hardest tracks (with his longer travel bike) to a speed that no one else could hang with, and then protected his lead for the rest of the week. It was a master class of stage racing tactics, and those that witnessed it first hand won’t forget the speed he rode at to build his lead in Les Arcs in steep, gnarly terrain. On some of the Alps’ hardest, unforgiving descents, Nico smashed down the trails and recorded some of the fastest times witnessed on these stages so far. BMC’s François Bailly-Maître pushed hard and matched Nico for speed on quite a few days during the event, gaining pace throughout the week, but couldn’t ever bridge the Cube racer’s advantage. Polygon rider Jamie Nicoll, last year’s winner, rode solidly all week and finished third.
Meggie Bichard was a class ahead in the women’s field, winning five out of six day’s racing by a clear margin, and eventually building a lead of almost twenty minutes over the rest of the field. BMC’s Kerstin Kögler and Swiss racer Minika Büchi rounded out the podium. The English rider Meggie now lives in New Zealand, juggling a career in medicine with her biking, and along with a lot of handy Kiwis in the field (like Jamie Nicoll) proved that the steep, techy trails in NZ are a perfect training ground for this style of epic Alpine bike racing.
Outside of the racers that follow every round of the EWS circuit and get paid to ride their bikes for a living, another hundred-plus competitors braved the course and finished the event, at speeds ranging from incredibly fast to pure survival. Only around 18 riders didn’t finish the Trans-Savoie at all, either through injury, illness or the fact the race was simply too tough.
Trans-Savoie will be back next year, with new stages, new areas and fresh challenges. As ever, it wouldn’t be possible at all without the help of a huge number of riders, marshals, mechanics, media guys and gals, timekeepers, doctors, catering lads and lasses, drivers, course markers, volunteers and anything else you can think of that stepped up this year. To all these people giving their time to see all the riders safely round the course all week, a massive THANK YOU is owed – the event certainly couldn’t happen without your amazing efforts.
The sponsors Shimano, Vango, Trail Addiction and Fox are vital cogs in the machine too, keeping everyone safe, dry and rolling along when the terrain does it’s best to make life difficult. For now, enjoy the highlights video, the awesome images and the amazing Savoie scenery and look out for next year’s entries coming live later this year.
The Trans-Savoie Team.