François Bailly-Maître Third at Mythical Megavalanche11. July 2016, L'Alpe d'Huez, France — Melanie Leveau — Enduro Team
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Megavalanche Alpe d’Huez - it is one of the most famous and not-to-be missed DH / Enduro Marathon races in Europe. Since 1995, each year, thousands of riders launch themselves from the top of the Pic Blanc glacier. A mass start at an altitude of 3,330m and the finish line in Allemont, no less than 2,600m lower, make this race the longest and probably, the craziest race of its type in the world.
About 2, 000 riders turned up on Saturday to qualify for the big final on Sunday. Divided into ten waves of 200 – riders had to race a shortened version of the final course and make it into the top 35 of their run to get a start spot for the big final on Sunday. François Bailly-Maître qualified first out of his heat, also scoring the best time of the day to guarantee the best start position for the final.
350 riders were up at the crack of dawn on Sunday to gather on the start line of the glacier.
This year, because of the late arrival of summer, the glacier was way longer than usual, with about eight minutes of racing (compared to the usual three) so riding through it at the front was crucial. François Bailly-Maître had practiced the glacier once before and decided to ride on his bike from the start line as opposed to running – the choice of many other riders. “It was the wrong decision. The night wasn’t very cold so the snow was softer than I expected. I should have run for a few meters before jumping on my bike. Instead, I got passed by a bunch of riders and got a bit stuck in their ruts” he explained with disappointment. He exited the glacier in around 15th place, and chased down the leading riders for the rest of the race. “I caught a lot of riders but I didn’t manage to get back to Absalon and Oton’s back wheels, despite a strong second half of the race. “They were too far ahead after the glacier”. After more than 43 minutes of racing, FBM eventually took third place, 55’’ behind Rémy Absalon (who won for the fifth time) and 22’’ behind Damien Oton.
“A few days after the Trans-Provence, this week of training and racing in l’Alpe d’Huez was the best possible preparation for the upcoming EWS in La Thuile. I finished second there two years ago. I love the trails so I am really looking forward to racing there this weekend!”
- Rémy Absalon +43'19''
- Damien Oton +0'33''
- François Bailly-Maître +0'55''
Full results here.