Last stop of the French Enduro Series: Font Romeu
For the first time the Enduro Series and French Enduro Cup used the « rally » format and it was the sporty town of Font Romeu, at 1800m high which took on this challenge, as well as being the first resort in the Pyrenees to welcome a national enduro race.
210 riders signed up for this final round under a bright sun and ideal temperatures that will not add up to the already difficult riding conditions with more than 1500m of ascent to be done on the bike. These efforts were fortunately rewarded by 4 beautiful stages on Saturday and 3 on Sunday. Some of these stages were literally “virgin”, seeing knobbed tires for the first time, created and built the “old school” way by Greg Doucende, experienced enduro rider and local master, with the precious help of Alex Balaud the official track builder. Cows were even allowed to watch the show as they were part of this idyllic scenery. But it would have been better if they could have avoided eating the VTT Mag tape made out of corn and then giving the organization few troubles, especially on the Saturday’s stage 4!
All Rémy Absalon needed was to finish at a good position without taking too much risks to take the number 1 plate, but behind him everything was still possible. For his second race Nicolas Lau took once again the win, always scoring within the first 3 positions and probably helped by his plate number 21 on this “virgin” terrain which was “brushed” by Rémy and the riders after him who opened the tracks. This week-end revelation was the come-back of the young gun Alex Cure who was injured since the start of the season in Samoens and who took the second scratch spot just in front of Rémy whose consistency offers him the title of winner of the 2012 French Cup without winning any of the 4 rounds.
Places on the final podium were still to be decided on Saturday morning between Quéré, Nicolai, Gally, Arnould or Gourgin.
Florian Nicolai in low form and maybe affected by a virus would still fight but not at his best level, and with courage would get the second spot. Not as good a week-end for Théo Gally who saw the final podium flying away from him in the very last stage due to mechanical problems. Théo was very disappointed and we understand why.
And what about Nico Quéré, not allowed at the start twice by the race marshalls as he forgot his elbow pads first and his back protector after (the rules are yet very clear); by the time he got his equipment, time was running on this rally format with starts at fixed times. Quéré finished at the bottom of the ranking and lost lots, he’s only 6th on the final ranking. It’s the solid and serious Jérémy Arnould who got the 3rd step of the podium.
In the female category Anaîs Pajot took the final win without surprise even with a difficult Saturday after mechanical problems on stage 2. Problems that offered the win of the week-end to Isabeau Cordurier.
In the Junior and Master categories, Jordan Navarro and Yannick Sénéchal with a comfortable advance before the week-end finished victoriously this French Cup that they’ve dominated in their categories.
Font Romeu was a real premiere. Between the “pedal-only” fans and the “lift-only” fans for the liaisons, both were needed to satisfy all and to represent the whole discipline. The hierarchy whatever the format is always respected which proves that we are really talking about enduro in its diversity.
All are now turning towards the 2013 season whose calendar should be known at the Roc d’Azur and we expect to see the discipline once again entering a new era. Training plans will be serious this winter in order to compete at the highest level as we heard about new riders coming from the DH and XC disciplines, such as Thomas Lapeyrie who did very well at this final round.