Today were the qualification races for each competitor that helps decide where on the starting grid the rider starts and if, in the case of non professional riders, which race each rider is entered into. The fastest do the Mega, the slowest do the amateur Mega. The qualification race takes place on a shorter track and is timed, each wave of riders that starts includes a few top riders, plus everyone else, the idea is to break up the top riders and give everyone a fair chance to be up front on the race Sunday.
The qualification track is shorter, around 20km and does not start on a glacier, although it does this year include a few snow covered sections. The track is open at the top, technical single trail in the middle and formed downhill track on the lower section, absolutely great fun along the whole length.
Riders arrive at the top and rest waiting for their grid start time calling.
Remy Absalon was calm, but interested in retaining his number 1 plate…
Ben Cruz waiting to drop, he came in 4th in his race.
The riders start to line up, nerves are high, a good start is essential.
Make this and you are home free…
A slippery off camber left-hander drops the riders straight down.
Jerome Clementz leading the pack off the start.
After the first rocky section, the riders are funnelled across the first snow field.
Doing well here can make the difference, as it is easier to pass.
Remy Absalon leads Sam Flanigan and Ben Cruz.
At the end of the snow fields are some rocky drops, which Jerome Clementz tackles with style.
The other riders just try to make it down alive and with out blowing tyres.
Dan Atherton was so fast we didn’t have time to set the camera properly.
The snow ends and the trails start, pedalling here is not so easy at 2700 metres.
The lower parts turn to open technical rocky single trail. Perfect place for a puncture on square edge rocks that cover the floor.
Keeping the bike straight and fast is the key, riders came through in trains, passing here is not so easy.
The technical middle section ends and the riders drop down in to Alpe d’Huez and the DH track on their way to the finish.
Punctures are a nightmare, they don’t end the race but they make times suffer as riders pass the unlucky ones.
Snow spikes apparently help this guy get down the snow trail section and were his secret weapon.
Once riders get to the bottom, Ben Cruz is waiting to cheer you on and tries not to distract his fellow competitors in a different heat too much.
Saturday is the ladies race day and Sunday is the big mens event. Riders will now rest where possible and fuel up ready for the early morning start on Sunday.