François Bailly-Maître wins Enduro du Mercantour7. September 2015, Mercantour, France — Enduro Team
The Enduro des Portes du Mercantour in France has established itself over the years as one of the finest enduro race in Western Europe. This year's edition did not disappoint with clear blue skies all weekend, a smooth organisation, fantastic trails and scenery, and an absolutely stacked field.
As last year's winner, François Bailly-Maitre rode with the number one plate, but the southern French armada was well intended to get back their crown on home soil.
Day one started head on with two steep, loose and twisty trails very typical from the Maritime Alps region. François surprised quite a few by losing only a mere few seconds against local young gun Florian Nicolai. The following transition climb would take close to three hours of climbing to the stunning high plateaux ridging the Parc du Mercantour. The most acclaimed stage 3 was a masterpiece of enduro racing, a stunning combination of high speed, very fast forest trails, exposed ridges to drift on, and a flowy selection of switchback to top it off.
With a stage suiting his strength, François took the lead closely followed by a maddened Florian Nicolai and a perplex Fabien Barel, who clearly gave it all he got and just fall short of stage win. The final stage of the day called Terres Grises is now an absolute myth, a one of a kind natural high-speed pumptrack carved into smooth and compact grey dirt.
Team veteran Florian Golay had a really good day out on a terrain he enjoys most, with no crash or mechanical to taint the day, and rewarded with an excellent 11th place given the forces on the top 20.
After losing some time on the peculiar last stage, François started in second position on the next day's long pursuit stage, rallying ski resort Valberg to the valley town of Guillaumes, 1070m drop of elevation and 20 minutes of tough and loose riding. Some physical sections on this longer stage allowed François to shake off Nicolai and pull a 12 second gap leading into the final two, tricky short stages. These two made for exciting racing with Fabien Barel on fire making time back to snatch second place from Nicolai. François Bailly-Maitre kept a cool head, stayed out of trouble and took the win with a handful of seconds to spare. Multiple DH World Champion Nicolas Vouilloz and local talent Alex Cure rounded off the podium. Flo Golay rode to a solid 13th thanks to a consistent performance over the two days.
Things are looking good for the BMC Factory Trailcrew with the two last EWS races coming up in Spain and Italy, and knowing that Enduro du Mercantour will host the French stop of the World Series next year.
Photos: Greg Germain