Mountain X Race 2008: French squeeze out Brits at Morzine
Tenacious as only this team knows how, crack French trio Quechua Comganie des Alpes (FRA), clawed their way back from adversity early in the race to win the 2nd Saab Salomon Mountain X Race held against the majestic backdrop of the Savoie Mont Blanc region.
With an astonishing performance on the final stage, a fast 46km adventure-run along the ridges and peaks around the Morzine mountain resort that required the teams to climb 3,076m in overall elevation gain, the team that at the start of the week believed itself out of the running, stunned pace setters Saab Salomon from Britain by
staging an astonishing comeback worthy of the French team’s legacy.
But they had to work hard for it. The problems came right from Day one as Yves Billodeau sustained a nasty hand wound when he fell on opening, extremely demanding mountaineering section.
Things got worse when, on the following day, the French team’s efforts to stay in the race on the first MTB section were dogged by mechanical failures and it looked, to all intents and purposes, that they would be out of the running.
They might have been down, and their sullen looks bore witness to the fact, but they were far from out. The spirits
of this indefatigable trio rose as they clocked the fastest time on the second MTB section and the alchemy that has
brought Rudy Gouy, Tony Sbalbi and Yves Billodeau success around the globe once again began to work its magic; much to the chagrin of the young but stalwart hopefuls from Britain.
Starting the day with only 5 points separating the two teams, which amounts to about 8 minutes, Saab Salomon(GBR) would have to race hard and make no mistakes to have any hope of overhauling the Yellow Jerseyed French but an error of route choice at the exit of the town cost them 15 minutes and probably the race.
This takes nothing away from the French who have shown heart, intelligence and passion to ensure a victory that will go down in the annals as a textbook example of spunk. “We have really raced as a team all week,” revealed race navigator Rudy Gouy as his team celebrated their victory, “even though when Yves fell our morale fell with him.
The problems we experienced in the first bike section didn’t help either and we thought we might not even finish the race.” It all came right in the end for the team with the metronomic winning mentality: “We started to come back, went for broke and even had something in reserve in it came down to a face off on this final section...” he
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