In the heart of the fortified town of Briançon began the prologue of the inaugural Alps Epic. A tough course packing 400m elevation into just 12km, it offered the racers a taste of what was to come. Climbing mostly on wider tracks followed by a steep and technical descent around seemingly endless switchbacks back into the parc de Schappe. The racers were all amped and the pecking order was already visible for the week.
A ceremonial start in the heart of Briançon took the racers towards the village of Chantemerle. The real stage then started off towards the col du Lauteret, covering 64km and 2200m of vertical ascent. A tough first stage that gave all the racers’ bodies a thorough shake down.
Day 3 – 05/07/2016 : Stage 2 Briançon – Mont Dauphin
The most epic stage of the Alps Epic ran from Briançon to Montdauphin, via the legendary col de l’Izoard and the chalets de Furfande. 72km and 3300m of ascent awaited the racers. Even the stunning scenery and incredible descents couldn’t stop the fatigue that crept into the racers’ bodies as the kilometres ticked by. At the finish line clenched teeth gave way to wry smiles of satisfaction and pride in the achievement of conquering such a mammoth stage.
Day 4 – 06/07/2016 : Stage 3 MontDauphin – Embrun
A shorter stage (52km and 2000m ascent) was welcomed by racers as they took it steady and tried to recover from the previous day. The shorter stage still packed a punch on the climbs, but any suffering was forgotten by the end of the final, mind-blowing descent to the shores of the lac de Serre-Ponçon and the swimming lake of Embrun. It was a dream stage finish with a scene so grandiose it would have merited a tour de France stage finish.
Day 5 – 07/07/2016 : Stage 4 Embrun – Ancelle
This penultimate stage promised to be more rolling on paper but with a finish significantly higher than the stage start it was always going to punch above its weight. The ever-changing vistas over the lac de Serre-Ponçon lifted spirits and the quality of the trails brought smiles to everyone’s faces. The stage finish in the small village of Ancelle was particularly enjoyed for its cool fountain allowing hot and tired racers to cool off and relax. The open air screening of the Euro 2016 football match in the village square that evening also allowed leading pair Remi Laffont and Steffen Thum to settle the bets they had placed before setting off!
Day 6 – 08/07/2016 : Stage 5 Ancelle – Gap
A true classic to finish the inaugural Alps Epic, with a beautiful route through the Champsaur to finish in splendour in the very centre of Gap. On the finish line we saw smiles, laughs and tears of joy. The finishing meal and prize giving topped the whole event off in great style. All we can do is thank all of you for being part of the birth of a legend in the world of mountain bike racing. Thanks again and see you next year!