Wow what a day! The second day of racing at Trans Savoie 2015 included 6 unbelievable stages encompassing some of the most challenging riding I have personally ever done.
Words by Phil Shucksmith
Read about Day 1 here
Forget everything I said about the organisers sensibly easing the riders in at the beginning of the day.
Stage 1 of Day 2 was nothing but a baptism of fire. 8.5km, over 1000m decent and some of the most intense rock sections I have ever seen. Even more remarkable than the course was the time set by Nico Lau, putting in a 1 minute lead on the next rider!
There is clearly something very special about Nico and by his own admission he feels like he rides better and better as the stage goes on, almost as if it takes him time to really warm up and get a flow on. To me this is remarkable because for for every other rider, even if they are good enough to still feel fast at the bottom of a 15min+ track the reality is that they are probably dragging the breaks, being a bit sloppy out of the turns… I know that is certainly the case for me. Ali, the event organiser, was standing at the bottom of the course buzzing as the top riders crossed the line, it clearly gave him a massive kick to send some of the world’s top riders down one of his home trails, which he knew full well was almost unrideable in places and he wanted to get the reaction first hand. It was cool to see just how much pleasure it give him to see the riders of the Trans Savoie ride his home trails.
The second stage was a much needed confidence booster after stage 1. A natural mellow flowing trail where you could put the power down and get off the brakes. However that was it for feeling like a hero. I know I keep on saying x track was the hardest, but that is because the tracks just keep getting harder and harder. Stage 3 was the dream track for the hard core alpine rider who delights in riding stuff which most people can’t get down. Well I’m not sure I am one of those people or whether this track made any converts, but it was a lot of fun and just a relief to get down if you were fortunate enough to stay on the bike.
Stage 4 was mellow but heavy on slippery rocks and big roots, making it an exercise of maining momentum and staying relaxed enough to let the bike slide around under you as the wheels got flung from one root to the next rock, either killing speed or maintaining an almost rhythmical dynamism when it was going right.
Stage 5 was another one for the frenchmen and true to form it was Francois who took the win, leveraging his skill on the countless 150 degree switchbacks that punctuated the stage. Knackered and ready for the end, stage 6 was a man made riding trail which although potentially the most dangerous to race blind because of how fast you could go was also relatively relaxing because at least it was a case of trying to ride it fast rather than trying to ride it at all!
The leader board remained unchanged from day 1. Nico, Francois and Jamie. In the women’s category Maggie Birchard took the win followed by Kerstin Kogler and Lisa Curry.
Starting on Day 3 I will be sharing some of the insight I have gained into the lives of the top riders that has come from having the privilege to share this adventure with them.
Trans Savoie Day Two:
Route: Les Arcs, Montchavin Les Coches, La Plagne.
Total distance: 49km
Total timed descent: 5,450m(!!)
Number of stages: 6
Overall standings after Day Two:
1st. Nico Lau
2nd. François Billy Maitre
3rd. Jamie Nicoll
1st. Meggie Bichard
2nd. Kerstin Kögler
3rd. Lisa Curry