Description: Marathon Trail Race
93km, 3300m of climbing, 6.11h, with 5’ time penalty 2.16h
Second Place, 2.50min off Alexis Chenevier
Racing Trans Vesubienne is like a mini holiday with a big push on Sunday morning! I travelled with my old mechanic Pädi plus we had awesome support from Specialized France.
The start is up at 1500m back in the mountains of Nice a town called St. Martine la Vesubie. No bling bling there like at the coast where the finish is. I love to stay up there. Just incredible trails to ride, a few super restaurants & boulangeries and this year the weather was good too.
I arrived with a brand new Stumpjumper Bike in my luggage and could not wait to go and ride it on Friday for 3hrs for the first time. It is the best bike I’ve ever ridden and I am not saying this as sponsored Specialized rider! Not only that it is so light and stiff, it also handles like a Enduro Bike downhill but as twitchy like my Epic due its short chainstays and low bottom bracket. For going uphill I locked my shock out and even out of the saddle with the trail geometry/position I felt super comfortable and fast. There was no technical uphill section I could have done any better with my Epic. The command post gave me lots of confidence especially I could ride the tight corners much faster since I could “steer” with my butt as well and had the weight where I wanted. In my eyes this is the biggest advantage of a dropper post. With the saddle far out you have to go behind the saddle which often is not the ideal positon, often it is very low above the saddle. One of the best features is the SWAT box in the downtube. (check pictures) This allowed me to do the race without any backpack and I still had all the spares I needed. Tire wise I’ve chosen Fast Track 2.2 Grid Casing in the rear and Ground Control 2.3 Control Casing in the Front. Very Unique also my INpower Rotor Cranks with power meter. Those cranks are so incredible stiff & light (only 50gr heavier then the REX1) and I have my power data showed on my Garmin. I tried to climb not below 360 Watts so it was a good “ass kicker” in the race, since I was out there riding more and less by myself.
But the best bike does not help much when you take a wrong turn in the middle of the city in Nice with 2km to go….
The start of the race is at 6am. Means I had to wake up after 4am. I cut up 2 bananas added chocolate powder, fromage blanc and maple sirup to it. Very easy to eat at that time! It just got bright half hour before the start and it was still very cold. Already after 1h it was pretty much lonely racing since it is so technical every rider more and less has to check or concentrate for himself and can not have eyes for the competitors too much. Still I ended up racing a lot with Alexis together who won the last 2 editions. After mid of the race I extended my lead up to around 3min. I never pushed in the downhills too much. The risk of the crash or technical problem is too high especially there was no big need for it since I was climbing much better then Alexis. I had zero drama out there in the beautiful country side. Not even close to a crash once neither to a mechanical which is super rare on this crazy challenging course. My frustrating drama only happened in the city of Nice. We rode through a semi dry river bed for a long time with ugly scum of water which we had to cross a few times. Already there it was poorly marked and so many times I thought I am wrong I must have missed the exit of it. Finally back in the city streets I thought the last sign which I have seen is going left on the bike path but it meant going over a bridge. Big bummer! Obviously after a while I have not seen signs any more but two mountain bikers which followed me for a while just told me to go straight. Well I ended up at the sea and found the finish line but from a complete different direction after I tried to find my way through the city. I still crossed the line first, but Alexis protested for my detour and I got a 5min time penalty. Just enough that he could win the race. I was pretty frustrated to lose such a difficult race on the last 2kms just because I judged a sign wrong.
Big thanks to my friend & mechanic Pädi, plus Specialized France who looked so well after me over those few days. Feeding is a big challenge in the middle of nowhere, racing around 24234 corners on cliffy small roads from one to the other feed zone!