• Maxi Avalanche

    More than a race

    Words Jack Reading | Photo Hoshi Yoshida

The Covid-19 pandemic shut the world down between March and June 2020, so this provided an opportunity at the end of July to bring our athletes, technical staff and media crew together, for a much needed catch up. Normally this event is the Mega Avalanche, from the highest peak starting on the glacier and descending all the way to the valley bottom. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the event organisers were running a scaled down event in the form of the Maxi Avalanche.

The event format is a mass start, which is a very exciting concept for both riders and spectators. The fastest qualifiers from each heat line up on the front row, and behind them riders line up depending on how they performed in their qualifier, the slowest being at the back. This format of racing means amateur racers can line up, and be on track, at the same time as the pro riders they idolise. Also, if they have a great qualifier and good start in their race run, could even be riding shoulder to shoulder with them as they attack the race track.

The Maxi Avalanche was set in the amazing Alpe D'Huez mountains, one of the most spectacular places in the world. The town sits at an altitude of 1250m and the peak rises to 3330m, providing some of the most beautiful terrain to ride mountain bikes. The air is however very thin, adding another challenge for the athletes competing in the event. The race track isn’t just downhill, it does have some climbing involved. So the thin air with its lower oxygen level means riders have to be extremely fit if they hope to succeed in the race. The trails in the Alpe D'Huez mountains include flat out fast sections and slower more technical parts, but there are rocks everywhere. This makes this venue a great place for riders and technicians to work on suspension setup.


It was a hot weekend in the beautiful Alpe d´Huez mountains, with everyone super keen to get racing again.


The fastest qualifier line up in the first row of the finals: The A-Line (Hugo Pigeon, Elliot Trabac an Remy Absalon of the Scott - SR SUNTOUR Enduro Team.

Three SR SUNTOUR athletes in the leading pack: Remy Absalon followed by Quentin Derbier and Jack Reading in 4th position.

LEFT SR SUNTOUR athletes, Hugo Pigeon closely chased by Ambroise Hebert. RIGHT The Maxi Avalanche has no glacier start, but still enough snow to make the race challenging.

This event gave us the opportunity to bring together lots our different Werx athletes. To name a few, Jack Reading and Dan Slack of downhill team One Vision Global Racing, Remy Absalon, 5 time winner of the Mega Avalanche race, and his team mates Hugo Pigeon and Elliot Trabac with the Scott SR Suntour enduro team, and South African downhill racer Stefan Garlicki. All the riders were enjoying socialising in the pits after the frustrations of the first covid-19 lockdown, and riding together in trains down the fast, dry and dusty trails. The downhill riders were enjoying riding shoulder to shoulder with the enduro racers who are experienced in this kind of racing, and everyone was helping each other to best prepare for the race.

The athletes also had the chance to do important suspension testing which is critical for racing performance. Head suspension technician Kevin Allemand was busy in the SR Suntour pit all week. He was able to tune the forks and rear shocks to meet the specific needs of each rider to the rough challenging terrain of the Alpe D'Huez tracks. Some riders were also doing some testing with new prototype products, checking how well they work on the trails. A very important part of how SR Suntour develops new products. There is a very good downhill track in Alpe D'Huez, once used for a world cup race, so the downhill riders used this as an opportunity to test their suspension, and work on setup ahead of the 2020 world cup race season.

Throughout the week the media crew connected with the athletes and used the amazing Alpe D'Huez back drop to create stunning photo and video content. In our modern world, dominated by social media sites, it’s really important to gather high quality content, to both advertise the SR Suntour products, and for the riders to show their fans what they are doing during the season. All the riders enjoyed their chance to head off with the media guys and create cool content out on the trails, getting away from the pressures of race preparation for a few hours.


After being separated for months leading up to this event, everyone was in high spirits and enjoying catching up with each other.


World Cup DH rider Jack Reading is enjoying his first ever Maxi Avalanche.

LEFT Kevin Allemand is the cartridge scientist. He makes the difference between just plush and winning fast suspension. Rider: Lucas Frigout RIGHT No spectators due to Covid-19, but tons of space for the WERX team.

Everyone had busy, full days, either at the pits or up on the trails, so the evenings were a chance to kick back, relax, and enjoy a meal and some well-earned drinks. After being separated for months leading up to this event, everyone was in high spirits and enjoying catching up with each other. Alpe D'Huez is the most perfect setting for everyone to have a great day out in the mountains, then enjoy some bike chat and banter in the evening, helping to clear the mind of the difficulties of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic. Mountain biking is a great distraction from stress, for both pros and amateurs alike. During the event we wanted to take the opportunity to connect with the fans, so using YouTube a daily live stream was produced. These were hosted by the riders every evening, and provided a great opportunity to talk about the activities of the day. The media crew gathered footage during the day, and they prepared short edits for the YouTube live stream and played these in-between the rider interviews. This gave the fans a first-hand perspective of what the riders were doing at the event. This included track walk footage analysing possible lines for the race, practice footage of riders trying out which lines worked best, and even POV action footage of the riders attacking the trails together and making overtaking moves which always happen in the race. The final live stream included footage and analysis from the qualifying race.

Our athletes had mixed experiences in their qualifying heats. Jack Reading and Remy Absalon were together in a heat, and running at the front in 1st and 2nd at the mid-way point until Jack hit a rock and exploded a back wheel knocking him out of the heat and the race. Remy continued strongly to the finish in 2nd place. Elliot Trabac and Hugo Pigeon, Remy’s team mates, both won their qualifying heats so all three athletes would be front row for the racing.

Racing was made up of two runs of the track, and this meant it was a very demanding race day both physically and mentally for the athletes. The first race meant riders were leaving the bottom at about 6am to travel to the top of the mountain. They then had a short break for lunch before going again. The fastest time for one run was 15 minutes 29 seconds and the winning time with the two runs combined was 31 minutes 12 seconds, which is a very long time to be racing a bike down a mountain. The SR Suntour rider with the best finish and a podium place was Hugo Pigeon in 3rd which was awesome. Remy Absalon finished 16th and Elliot Trabac who finished 7th in race one suffered a mechanical in race two to finish 29th overall. Other SR Suntour riders who finished in the top 30 were Quentin Arnaud 26th Ambroise Hebert 28th.

The Maxi Avalanche event was such a great time for everyone involved with SR Suntour. The racing was exciting and everyone enjoyed the beautiful location high up in the Alpe D'Huez mountains. We look forward to returning for the Mega Avalanche in 2021.

Hugo Pigeon from the SCOTT SR SUNTOUR Enduro team finished 1st in his age category and 3rd in the overall ranking.