Video Day 5:
Route: Beaufort, Beaufort-Arêches.
Total distance: 44.3km
Total timed descent: 3,560m
Number of stages: 6
Standings after Day Five:
1. Nico Lau – 3:59:07
2. François Bailly-Maître – 4:02:27
3. Jamie Nicoll – 4:06:05
1. Meggie Bichard – 5:07:24
2. Kerstin Kögler – 5:24:20
3. Monika Büchi – 5:28:27
Full results here
For many purists, Day Five might have had the best natural mountain biking of the whole event. The quiet off-the-beaten-track town of Beaufort doesn’t have the drama or the epic scenery of the higher Alpine resorts, but it sure has some awesome trails.
Damien Oton picking up the pace on Stage 6
And if the singletrack in dense forests means loam, hero dirt and roots rather than multi-layered, jagged panoramas, we didn’t hear anyone complaining about any lack of scenery.
Pro Ride/Mavic/Santa Cruz rider Phil Shucksmith had a top ride today – matching EWS heavy hitters like Jamie Nicoll for time in this kind of terrain is no mean feat…
Riders were dropped off at the beautiful Lac de la Roseland in the morning and climbed a little to head into stage one – a trail that set the tone for the day on fierce, fast forest paths. With only one chair lift being used in Arêche, riders had to keep zig-zagging up and down the hills with short sharp liaisons to access some of the riding in the Beaufortain area, which is a mixture of maintained bikepark stuff and wild, steep natural paths.
Breakfast stop at the Lac du Roseland
It was pretty hard to single out each individual stage from Day Five as they all melted into a continuous steep onslaught of loam, duff and roots. Treble and bass was the fitting cool name for the second timed section, and pretty much summed up the soundtrack of the day – the thud of loose roots being thumped by downhill casing tyres and forming a fast rhythm. It’s a sound that will have lulled some of the racers to sleep tonight if they found the groove today.
Radon Factory rider James Shirley has some sick style on a bike. He looks consistently one of the fastest on track in the hardest sections.
The final sixth stage of the day was probably the most technical and race leader, Nico Lau, flatted on the front mid-stage, but still managed to only lose tens of seconds (rather than minutes) and maintain his lead over fellow countryman François Bailly-Maître.
With one day left, the majority of racers are still standing and the vibe on the hill seems to be shifting from one of simply a will to get to the end of the week, to one of not wanting this race to end and have to return to normal life. The look in some of the rider’s eyes on the toughest sections isn’t what you’d see in everyday life and it’s going to be a tough return to normality for a lot of riders next week. Let’s see if Nico Lau can keep his 180mm travel Cube Fritzz on track and finish victorious tomorrow when the race heads over towards Mont Blanc.