Race report | Cannondale Enduro Tour #1 – Dabo
The first victors in the Cannondale Enduro Tour have been crowned! This year’s newest French race series kicked off last weekend in Dabo, a small village nestled in the northwest of the Vosges Mountains. Having dreamt of blistering sun and trails for so long during the filthy cold winter, the 330 competitors couldn’t have got their 2015 racing season off to a better start.
As co-organiser of the Cannondale Enduro Tour Jerome Clementz gave a welcoming speech to the hordes of competitors on Sunday morning, the level of excitement of what lay ahead was palpable. Those already familiar with Dabo and its trails from last year’s Bluegrass Enduro Tour race, raved about the 90% flow, loose ground and unbeatable fun. Newbies were immediately convinced – although pre-race training on the trails had been prohibited and they were expected to race the six stages blindly. With 1,500 metres of descent and only 1,200 climbing metres over the 33km, the figures looking promising. The route had been made possible thanks to a shuttle service, which would transport riders from the finishing area back to the start.
From the starting area, the ‘Col de la Schleiff’ transfer section led riders along a hiking path above Dabo to the first stage. Without having seen the stage, a lightning quick assessment of the soft pine needle-strewn forest floor at the start line was required in order to save crucial seconds. Creative line choices were limited as the marked trail weaved tightly through the trees. And it soon became clear that by looking ahead and braking considerately, you were in a better situation given the near-constant turns.
Over the course of the following five stages it became clear that races that are both flowy and challenging can – and do – exist. Surprises and variation came in the form of several short, steep climbs as well as knee-deep and metre-wide sandy holes. Time and time again, sandstone boulders blocked the desired line choice and riders were forced to ride as competently as possible over or around them.
As the riders sped along the route, the grooves and burms got deeper and deeper, which created some extra grip.
Once you’d got used to the ground conditions you could take pretty much every corner in the same manner, skillfully braking on the rear to drag it around the corner and keep it on track.
Remy Absalon (Scott) was fastest on the day, clocking 24:02.46 minutes and finishing over 20 seconds ahead of Ludovic Oget, closely followed by Eliott Trabac in third.
With a lead of 97 seconds, Claire Hassenfratz (Team Tannenbike) dominated the pro women’s category and secured victory ahead of Hannah Röther and Fanny Amann, who placed second and third respectively.
The masters’ category was won by Camille Lepley (GEKO Bike) with a time of 27:12.42 ahead of Therry Fontaine and Pierre Fluckinger.
For more information and the full results visit: cannondale-endurotour.com
Text: Daniel Schlicke Fotos: Jeremie Reuiller, Simon Marchal