A successful season for Team Topeak Ergon was brought to a close last week with the Roc dÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Azur Bike festival. It marks the end of a great season, and a well earnt break for the athletes. Attending the event were three riders, who tackled the 83km long and very strenuous course (2300m of climbing). Roc dÃ¢â‚¬â„¢AzurÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s marathon race, with over 6,000 starters, counts as one of the largest races that there is. The prestige is therefore very large. Technically very challenging, it is also very hard on the bikes. For this very reason, Team Topeak ErgonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s racing stable was painstakingly prepared by team mechanic Lars Hartwich. It paid dividends, Team Topeak Ergon was one of very few teams who were free from mechanical defects.
Starting in the festival arena itself, an old Military airfield in Frejus, Alban got off to a great start and rode the convoy away from the arena into the comparative wilderness. The first climb came, and the sorting of the riders began with it. Both Kim Tofaute and Sally Bigham managed to stay together and in the front part of the field reaching the downhill section before the herd. It was here that the 120mm long travel Magura Durin, that had been especially fitted showed its true colours, Ã¢â‚¬Å“it made a huge difference. A big advantageÃ¢â‚¬Â Kim Tofaute mentioned following the race.
For Alban Lakata, a brilliant race was unfolding. Able to stay with the World Champion Roel Paulissen (Cannondale) for a lot of the race, until he made his decisive attack. Lakata, undeterred, attacked German Champion Jochen KÃƒÂ¤ÃƒÅ¸ and the Swiss Champion from 2008 Lukas Buchli (BIXS Pro Team), on the final accent. Playing his hand perfectly, he was then able to put a gap into 3rd place to finish 2nd, repeating his performance from last year.
For Sally Bigham, it was also a successful day, and in the summer heat she was able to ride to a fantastic 5th place behind former World Champion Gunn-Rita Dahle. The race was won by a surprise challenger, the Swiss former downhiller, Marielle Saner (Swiss). Her advantage on the downhills being played well.
In the cross country race on the Sunday Alban Lakata and Robert Mennen lined up to start. This race was made up of a single lap of a 53km circuit in the very technically challenging country side in the Cote dÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Azur. Following the start, both athletes were able to make their presence felt at the front, giving it once again, their all. The final score sheet showed just what a great day it had been. Alban finished 4th, and Robert, marking the end his first season with Team Topeak Ergon, finished 8th.
All riders agreed. Next year they will be back.