Megavalanche is THE must do Mass-Start race on the world MTB scene. This year again, about 1400 pilots lined up in l’Alpe d’Huez to get into an epic fight at an altitude of 3300 meters, to get down to the village of Allemont, 2500 meters lower.
It’s been the 4th time I take the start of this race. It’s a magical one, but is also hugely demanding physically and mentally for any rider. And to be honest, this race drains me every year.
If you feel like getting out of your comfort zone and pushing your limits like never before… Then GO!
Welcome on board!
You need to be aware that this race requires a massive commitment in terms of focus and conditionning – Especially when you’re racing it after the Mountain of Hell…
As a reminder, the MOH (for the purists) usually happens two weeks before the Megavalanche, on the nearby slopes of Les Deux Alpes. To celebrate the race’s 20th birthday this year, over 1000 pilots took the start at the peak of the glacier, getting down at 110km/h after the first seconds of race.
Have a look HERE for my winning run at the 2019 MOH.
I’m not going to lie, the thought of winning both MOH and Megavalanche has been haunting me for quite some months. I have been getting ready for this special combo in parallel of my usual focus: my webserie “MISSION”.
The Megavalanche is a stressful race… So many things are out of your control: how other pilots are going to ride, how the snow is going to impact my own ride and trajectories, mechanical issues, and so on… Over the years, I learnt that there is always a part of luck (or misfortune) that we have to embrace in every race. In the end, it’s what makes these races so addictive and thrilling!
Despite of the many things out my controls, I always focus on the things I actually can control, such as preparing my run to avoid any surprises on the D-day. Which means dividing the trail between technical and physical sections. To me, the key is to be able to visualise which sections can be raced full speed and which ones should save up some of my energy, even if I am being passed by some of my opponents.
But let’s face it, even with a great care put into the preparation of the race, you never know how things are going to turn out 😉
After a good qualifier session, I’m able to validate my start on the first line for the final. This is the opportunity to make the difference as soon as it starts! I know that if I’m able to get out of the line in front of my opponents I won’t have to ride in any track except for my own. Every passing bike in the snow creates some kind of rail, that is really unstable to get into and makes it difficult to work your bike correctly. So, it’s WAY easier to be in the front, but it’s not an easy task…
Quick on my feet as soon as the race starts I managed as I planned (and with a bit of luck) to get out of the mass. I’m following Alexis Chenevier, and François Bailly-Maître battling with me on my left side.
These are the most stressful seconds of the race, when you can lose it all within a blink. Kélan Grant was a serious contender to the win this year, but look what happened to him in this VIDEO.
The first turn is a complete trap! It’s a long right curve, after a 80km/h braking section on icy snow. The e-bikers who raced the day before have been surprised by the vivid ice in this shady section as well.
Thankfully we had a better snow on the day we raced. I managed to get to the second wall, coming in strong, at about 100km/h. I pushed on my feet and took a few risks, allowing me a cushion of 50 meters ahead of the 2nd.
This 50-meters cushion gave me the focus I needed to get into the most technical part and try to avoid any mistakes and falls. But then, I saw Jose Borges passing me. I’m aware he is faster than I am on this type of sections, but I know it would be too risky for me to speed up and follow up him.
I decide to temporize, and give my cardio some rest before starting the 15 minutes descent. It’s a long one and is physically demanding. My strategy seemed to pay off, while Jose seemed to be paying his efforts on the previous section. While he has slowed his pedalling speed to rest a bit, he is waiting for me to get back into his wheel to regain some well needed energy before the second half of the race.
I overtake Jose to take the lead, shortly, before Jose passes me again. But I knew this time I had to keep up his pace! I’m giving 100% on the way down, reaching some crazy speed. Jose’s strategy is to let me pass him right before the end of another physical section. I’m trying to stay in his wheel and temporize but he is considerably slowing down and I don’t want the pack to catch up on us. I have no other choice than passing him. I anticipated the sprint before the last run, but wasn’t strong enough to keep the lead.
At this moment, I know my chances to win are gone. The dusty trail makes it impossible for me to follow Jose closely. He is smartly outrunning me to the finish line. His bike crossed the finish line 8 seconds before mine, after an epic 39 minutes battle. Congrats Jose for your well-deserved victory!
I Can’t wait to come back next year for another Megavalanche, more motivated than ever!