K-124 Days Round I - Jour 1
K-124 Days Ronda I - Día 1

K-124 Days Round 1 - Day 1

Monday 9 April 2012
by Ben Swales
popularity : 33%

JPEG - 336.7 kb When you’re on your way to K-124 Days in the village of indomitable gauls, La Tour de Scay, the questions that you will no doubt be asking yourself are “What will they do this year? What will Alain Rémy have prepared for this year’s competition? Will it be even harder than the 2011 edition?” No photos were released prior to the event, but they have been working hard all week to prepare another unforgettable event that will kick off the season in the manner that it deserves. We wondered what they could have done to improve on last year’s event, and to continue the K-124 Days legacy of pushing the limits of he sport, innovating and experimenting with obstacles, formats and more. As we entered the village, the welcome was as warm as ever and the sections, as expected, were formidable. The big difference form last year though was that everything was more technical, with less of a focus on scale. It seems that maybe the limits were reached in terms of height and distance in 2011, so the evolution has come in the style. None of the big moves look to difficult, even in Super Elite, but the difficulty comes from the fact that the sections are longer and more technical. There is every kind of passage that you could imagine, some that we have not seen in a UCI competition for too long, and riders would have to move skilfully and quickly and make no mistakes if they wanted to get through the section before the time runs out and they start incurring serious penalties.

JPEG - 307.2 kb We bumped into Alain Rémy as we were walking round and he told us a bit more about what the riders could expect. “We finished setting the sections this morning. We’re being a bit more ‘reasonable’ this year. Especially as the weather was forecast to be bad. We have set all of the sections in the lower part of the venue, all 24 of them! That way everyone’s together all day. We created some new sections as well. Less space to practice, but everyone’s having fun and it’s different to last year. People have been arriving from all over the world for the last two or three days, so for us, the event is already a success. There are Basques, Spaniards, English, Germans, Czechs, Hungarians. It’s incredible! Especially for a competition that doesn’t actually count towards anything. That makes us happy! It’s a good sign. This year we wanted to speed the riders up a bit. In Elite, they have two and a half minutes and they’ll need to be flat out the whole time in order to get through the sections. We’d pushed the limits in terms of size, so we wanted to innovate a bit, try something different. Pushing the Elites further physically is obviously the right way to do it, like they are with the Super Final in the UCI events. That’s always been the aim here, to experiment, to put on a dynamic trial that can provide new ideas for the official circuits. Movement is one way of providing dynamism and the only way to generate that is to make the sections longer. That will be the lesson this year, In two and a half minutes, we don’t want there to be 30 seconds thinking time, so we’ve added a lot more distance to the sections! That way we bring a bit of the movement of the BIU style events to the UCI, and that’s important.

But don’t worry, there are still some big moves for the top riders, like the massive rock we’ve added to the central section and some other XXL obstacles scattered about. As there are every year, there are plenty of Elites in attendance, with some of the best UCI riders coming along to check out everyone else’s level before the opening of hostilities. Monty’s No. 1 Rider Abel Mustieles is here with his M5 prototype and he stopped to talk to us about the sections and his bike. “I wasn’t here last year, but the sections seem to be longer and more technical this year. That’s good for me, I like it like that. If you hesitate for too long then things will be difficult, but there are some really nice moves, it’s super-technical, I like it! It’s a shame Benito couldn’t make it, but he didn’t want to risk riding with his injured knee and endanger the rest of the season. I arrived yesterday and have been having fun on my carbon proto. I’ll get getting the final prototype in the next couple of weeks, the one before the production model, which will arrive in July.” He hasn’t won this event yet, does he think this will be the year? “Wow, I don’t think so! I trained will Gilles and I don’t get how he does it. Every year he’s better, his level is always higher. I’ve improved as well, but he’s in another dimension. These sections sill be easy for him. I’m just here to prepare for the season, and I’m going to give it my all. We’ll see what comes of that! And I’ll win one day, I know it.

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JPEG - 177 kb We also bumped into the winner of last year’s edition, World Champion Gilles Coustellier, surveying the sections with his wife and daughter, looking pretty calm and relaxed. “Is it easier than last year? Alain says that every year, but it’s always harder! It’s going to be a very technical competition, with some pretty big moves as well. You can pick up a five pretty easily if you’re not careful. Nothing better for setting you up for the season that sections like that. We’ll see how it goes. There are some pretty big passages, where you’ll have to be 100% focused. But the sections look great over all! I can’t wait!

Everyone was pleased to see the arrival of GT/ RedBull / Adidas rider Kenny Belaey, who had been in Germany the day before with his sponsors and hadn’t been sure if he’d be able to make it to La Tour de Scay. But he did, and that’s sure to make the Super Elite competition even more interesting! “I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it, but I’m extremely happy to be here! I was at a photo shoot in Germany yesterday with my sponsors, Continental, for Audi. We rode in these massive cylinders – it was fun! The I really like the sections. They’re longer, more technical. We’ll have to adapt our riding, which is great. I’ve finished with the shows and he videos now, I’m going to dedicate myself completely to the 2012 season and nothing else, hopefully with some good results. Or maybe not… We’ll see! But from today, I’m going to be fully focused on competition!!

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After chatting to Kenny, we headed off to have a look round the K-124 exhibition to see the latest Koxx and Try-All products. And what great products they were! Some of them haven’t yet been unveiled as it’s still early. We got to see the new Kloud, the competition bike that positions itself just below the famous Sky in the Koxx range, available in both 20” and 26" versions, and which are even better looking in real life than in the photos that we’d seen. They look great! We also catch a glimpse of the new Foxx, still in its box. It’s splendid! We have a last look around to make sure we haven’t missed anything and catch sight of the Sky 3 frames on display. These are still the first prototypes and there is still a shipment of Sky 2 frames to arrive before the Sky 3 will see the market. They’re still being developed, but if these protos are anything to go by, the production version will be a beauty. The 20” has seen the addition of HS33 mounts and different bashplate mounts. The Entry range is also on display, and we see the new Try-All bottom brackets on the accessories stand.

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Back to the sections. The spectators are starting to arrive, and there are loads more riders about now. The sun is shining and the rain seems to have stayed away. Great news! The first riders to ride the sections are the youngsters: The Orange, Green and White categories, to be precise. British riders Adam Morewood and Charlie Rolls stood out in the White category, and nothing could stop these young prodigies in their romp towards the podium on their Monty bikes. You can see the full results for these categories here: K-124 Days 2012 Round 1 - White / Orange / Green results.

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While the younger riders made their way around the sections, the Elites began their warm-up, putting on a good show as always. The pressure builds quickly, with the top riders trying to impress and intimidate each other, trying to gain an early advantage by out-jumping their rivals and demonstrating the results of their winter training. The tyre area saw some of the biggest riding go down. Gilles Coustellier struck an early blow with a huge gap to front that no one else even dared try (taking off from a tree trunk that you can’t even see in the photo!). Monster.

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The action continued on the rocks lower down, and we saw some massive sidehops and gaps form Gilles and co.

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PNG - 367.7 kb And then they’re off, hitting the sections at 15:30. Gilles gets into the swing of things quickly, cleaning sections in quick succession. He dropped just three points on his first lap, a score that he improved on on his second lap. What an artist. Behind him, Kenny, Vincent and Abel are all but neck and neck with 12, 15 and 16 points respectively. The technical sections demanded a lot of skill, focus and rhythm and the world’s best riders put on a great show. Abel suffered a mechanical problem with his brakes, but a bit of sticky tape soon solved it and he was off again. Things were a bit more difficult behind them, with Hannes leading the remaining riders with 30 points on his card. Théau Cortès was disappointed with his result, but told us that he was pleased To have got through the sections and that he felt he had the potential to at least get near the top of the table. It was the first competition of the season and there’s plenty of time to catch up! He was one point ahead of Ion Areitio, who had also been riding well. Rafael Tibau and Iciar Van den Bergh brought up the rear in Super Elite, with Iciar suffering from painful arm pump that meant pulling his brakes was difficult. The full results are available here: K-124 Days 2012 Round 1 - Super Elite Round 1 Results.

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In Elite, it was Junior World Champion and local lad Marius Merger that set the tempo… He demonstrated impressive determination and powered through the sections with metronomic consistency, staying focused right up to the last section and finishing on just seven points. Cerny rider Morgan Vassor (Koxx) rode well to finish on nine points ahead of Kevin Aglaé (Koxx) and Guillaume Dunand (Ozonys) who were further behind on 20 each. The scores were tight behind them, and with the second round taking place on Sunday, it was still all to play for, and things would be more difficult as they would be riding the sections in reverese. Should be intense! The full results are available here: K-124 Days 2012 Round 1 - Elite Round 1 Results. The had weather held out for the whole day, and Round 1 had been a fantastic start to the weekend. The organisation was perfect and there were a record number of riders, with 183 registered. And it’s only just started...

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