Martin “Danger” Astley reports back from an exciting first round of the Super Enduro series in Italy.
As with all good trips, this one started with an old man with no trousers on at 36,000 ft. Don’t ask me why but it happened!
Words: Martin “Danger” Astley
The aim of this brief escapade to the Italian region of Liguria was quite simple. Get some sunshine, smash some dusty trails and eat as much Pizza and Ice Cream as humanly possible. Purely by chance it happened that the first round of the Italian Super Enduro series was on the very same weekend in San Remo. Although I’m not sure that eating copious amounts of Pizza and racing against some of the world’s finest Enduro racers is a recipe for success, that’s where I found myself along with compadre Mark “Webbo” West during the first weekend in March.
Not a bad view for a race venue!
San Remo is situated just a short train ride east of Nice making it easily accessible to most UK riders via a quick EasyJet flight. The train journey from Nice is stunning and takes you via some great points of interest such as Cap-D’Ail, host to some historic DH races in the 90’s, and Monaco, which apparently hosts some car race each year?
Once in San Remo we hooked up with the first of many incredibly hospitable, helpful and quite frankly awesome Italians. Luca Bortolotti a mountain guide friend of mine had put us in touch with Manuel and Stefano from Life Cycle who were organising the race alongside the folks at Super Enduro. It just so happens that Manuel also runs an uplift and guiding business, winner!
The Italian’s have one of the best Enduro series in the world, no doubt. With 14 races split in to three categories, Sprint, Pro and Supermountain there is something for everyone.
San Remo was the first race of the series and fell in to the “Sprint” category as apparently it was a short one?! This race consisted of 1200m of climbing over the 32Km course so by UK standards it certainly wasn’t short! No timing on the climbs though, just a cut off to hit.
The San Remo route consisted of three, timed, predominantly downhill special stages. I’ll spare you the minute details but in a nutshell the tracks were as follows.
Special Stage 1
Roughly 3 minutes of tight, twisty and at times, steep trail. Pretty rocky this one and important to carry good speed. Hardly any pedalling required and no room for error, a real DH stage.
Special Stage 2
A little more open and flowing than stage 1 and a little longer at 4 minutes for the faster riders. This was a beauty of a trail with incredible flow, mostly in the trees allowing the ground to retain a little more moisture so unlike the dust bowl conditions of the other two tracks this one retained some primo dirt.
Special Stage 3
Probably one of the best Enduro stages I have ever ridden. Rough as hell, long, physical, fast with a couple of little climbs thrown in to keep you honest. This was a real test of all round riding ability at about 7 minutes long.
This was always going to be a tight battle. With locals such as Nico Vouilloz and Karim Amour cutting their teeth on these tracks and Jerome Clementz, Alex Lupato and Andrea Bruno looking to test their early season form we were sure to be in for some close racing.
Alex Lupato took the surprise win on stage 1 nudging flat pedal rider Andrea Bruno in to second and Vouilloz in third. Davide Sottocomolo and Karim Amour rounded out the top five with Clementz a little off the pace in seventh.
The French masters obviously had something to prove on stage 2 as Karim Amour took the win by one second ahead of Nico with Bruno in third.
With no clear leader heading in to stage 3 it was all to play for. This stage was longer, more technical and offered a real possibility to put a decent gap in to your competition.
No surprises that 10 times World Champion Nico Vouilloz kept his cool and did just that. Not by much though, Nico took the stage win by just one second but it was enough to give him the overall victory and the top step on the podium. Italian rider Andrea Bruno put in a stellar ride to finish in second place overall just two seconds behind Nico.
That’s not a lot of time when you are looking at a combined riding time of over thirteen minutes! Karim Amour took the final step on the podium making it a France, Italy, France sandwich, somewhat like a Tomato and Mozzarella baguette.
Martin “Danger” Astley on his way to the Masters win.
As for us Brits, I managed to wobble my way down for 16th place and Webbo banged in a solid 19th. With 320 competitors and some of the World’s finest taking part we were both pretty happy.
Big shout out to Manuel Ducci our host and race organiser who managed to bag fifth place whist simultaneously ensuring the event ran smoothly with help from the ever smiling Stefano and the incredibly organised Superenduro Team.
On reflection this was one of the best races I have ever attended. Slick organisation, incredible trails, close racing, but above all, that incredibly chilled and friendly vibe that the Euro’s seem so good at creating. I’d fully recommend checking out one of the Super Enduro races this year. The next round is at Coggiole on the 1st April; you’d be a fool not to get yourself along. Checkout www.superenduromtb.com for details.
If you fancy escaping the dreary UK weather and checking out some incredible trails in the sunshine San Remo comes highly recommended.
To arrange uplifts contact Manuel on firstname.lastname@example.org
For affordable, bike friendly accommodation checkout www.villaggiodeifiori.it