Route: Les Contamines Mont Blanc, St Gervais.
Total distance: 52.5km
Total timed descent: 2,350m
Number of stages: 4
Full results here
Final standings after Day Six.
1. Nico Lau – 4:24:23
2. François Billy-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
It’s hard to believe it’s six days since we rolled out of the campsite in Val d’Isére not sure of what to expect, and set off on the 2015 Trans-Savoie journey. Friday was the day that the week’s efforts and frustrations got their rewards. All the exertion, the skill and the bravery crudely broken down into hours, minutes and seconds. And the guy that ruled the steepest tracks and the gnarliest terrain was the guy from close to Strasbourg in France, Nico Lau, and it’s been a pleasure to see him and the rest of the top riders tackling all of the stages this week.
The first stage was just a simple bike park blue down to Les Contamines, but simple isn’t always easy and safe when you’re pushing against the clock on the last day of a week-long event. Every second counts for most of the riders, whether it’s to try and beat your mate, the guy who’s been closest to you in time throughout the week or to win the overall event at the sharp end.
Nico Lau started the day with a three-minute lead built up in the first few days of racing to protect, and rode conservatively today (for him!) to make sure nothing got in the way of winning the Trans-Savoie.
Stage Two was tough to access and needed a huge liaison climb of 1,000m, which was no joke in the blistering sunshine. The trail is one of the week’s best, but after six days racing riders were tired on track and some struggled to make the most of the fact that because of the difficulty to reach the top, the trail is less well ridden and always in prime condition.
Heading down towards St Gervais to pick up the Mont Blanc Tramway, a small, tight 250m-drop stage was squeezed in since the race was passing nearby. It was a tight, tricky steep path down to the Thermal Park in town and caught a few by surprise with some steep rooty sections and switchbacks.
The Tramway itself is a classic piece of engineering that winches tourists up the shoulder of Mont Blanc on a cogged line, eventually stopping just shy of the glacier at a mountain refuge. Trans-Savoie didn’t go as high up as this, as with chained ‘Via Ferrata’ style paths it’s not possible to ride down most of the terrain up close to the ice, never mind race down it.
Instead, the final 30th stage of the week followed the line of the Tramway back down from the iconic mountain towards the campsite above St Gervais. The start blasted down Alpine meadows with views to die for and headed flat out into woods and paths with 10km distance and 1,000m drop. By the end of this stage, racers had clocked up almost 30,000m of descending during the week. Many had no punctures or mechanicals either, proving how awesome bikes are these days to handle this kind of stuff.
Trans-Savoie 2015 women’s podium – winner Meggie Bichard was getting her champagne technique dialed.
For most competitors, survival and the badge of honour of ending one of the toughest enduro races around was enough, but for the top racers in each category, the roll back to the campsite might have been an anxious few minutes until the check at the timing tent either confirmed or scuppered the result they wanted. In the end François Billy-Maître ran him close, but Nico Lau had done enough to protect his lead and win the third edition of the Trans-Savoie after almost four and a half hours of racing.
Trans-Savoie 2015 Pro Men 1st: Nico Lau (Cube), 2nd: François Billy-Maître (BMC), 3rd: Jamie Nicoll (Polygon)