Mégavalanche Alpe d'Huez
Wildhaber on the Podium despite crashing
René Wildhaber is further chasing his seventh win at the «Mégavalanche Alpe d'Huez»: After having crashed twice and catching up again, the Onza Tires team rider finished in third.
Alpe d'Huez is a magical place not just for professional road racers: Every year it serves as venue for the most prestigious race of the Mégavalanche series. And Onza Tires' team rider René Wildhaber already has six wins on his record in this long-distance downhill race with a mass start. So the target was set from the beginning: Get that seventh win! But the competition was fierce: At 3300 metres above see level, the fastest 350 riders of the qualifying gathered atop the Pic Blanc to find an as fast as possible way down to the finish.
Bad weather in the weeks before the race and the warm spring had made the course even rougher than it usually already is: Where the riders were crossing the snowfields of the Sarenne glacier in other years, there was not a lot of snow left this year – but all the more boulders and countless sharp-edged rocks. Like many of his competitors, René Wildhaber suffered some flats– despite having mounted the Ibex DH in 2.4 inches width without inner tubes and with some sealant instead. During practice, he was forced to change a rear tire twice due to cuts in the carcass.
When the race was on, Nicolas Vouilloz was the first rider to take the lead, but he lost it quickly due to a mistake. Instead, a group of four riders took command of the race, including René Wildhaber, Rémy Absalon, Jérôme Clementz and Ludovic May. It did not take Wildhaber long to put himself in the lead and ride away from the others. «Right from the start the race was a brutal fight. Unfortunately I got irritated by a camera chopper after I had managed to take the lead. Crossing a gnarly section, I hit a rock with my crank, got launched off my bike and crashed heavily on my head. As I was feeling dizzy, I could not get up right away, and when I tried to continue I crashed another time.»
As a consequence, René Wildhaber decided to slow down a bit and ride his own race. Still his pace was fast enough to catch up with Nicolas Vouilloz and pass him close to the finish line, fetching that third podium spot – about a minute behind Rémy Absalon and just ten seconds behind second-placed Jérôme Clementz. Seen the fact that he had crashed twice on the way down, Wildhaber was satisfied with this result.
Apart from him, a second rider was competing for Onza: Remo Heutschi from Onza Tires' Swiss distributor TST Trading. Heutschi showed that even years after retiring from racing he has not forgotten how to go fast, riding to a 24th place in the overall – and a fifth place in his category.
Press release of onza tires