Race report: Maxiavalanche 2020 by Giacomo Dodino
We are not 100% sure, but Giacomo might be the first-ever rider in a marathon downhill race with a Pole bike. Being one of those bucket list events for many, this is a great achievement and deserves a spot on our wall of fame.
Giacomo Dodino Maxiavalanche 2020 race video
Maxiavalanche 2020 race track
The race track had a total of 1500m of vertical drop, starting from 3000m and down to the village at 1500m. As you can see from the video, the track was a mixture of different kinds of terrain. At first, there was a rocky part with some snow sections, big open lines where you had to know where to go. The second part was super fast with some alpine Trail sections. The final third part went down a straightforward blue/green track of the bike park with high berms and a few jumps. Here, however, it was the dust that made overtaking difficult. In between the sections, there were fire roads and lots of pedalling.
Practice and qualifiers
Saturday was the practice and a qualifier day of the Maxiavalanche. The official practice started in the morning. It took me more than 2 hours to practice the first lap, trying to understand where it was better to go – so many lines to choose from!
Qualifying took place from 13:00, was a critical moment for this type of race. The 450 riders were divided into five different heats, all mixed between skill level and gender. Each of these five heats was then formed into equal rows of 20 riders.
Having never competed in one of these races, I was drawn into the second row of one of the heats. Not an optimal start position because only the first 20 riders of each heat qualify for the actual main race, the Europe cup.
The Qualifying was crucial, I had to give my 100%. After a difficult start between the two lines of riders, I managed to carry on with some good passes and finish in 7th position. That allowed me to start from the second line of the main race!
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The race day
I had a bit of bad luck in Race 1. After a good start (I was in the top 15) a rider behind me hit my wheel when we were entering in the snow, It was a tight section of the trail, and we had to reduce the speed to get into the right line. When I fell, the handlebars and the saddle twisted. I had to fix them fast and start again, but as you can see in the video, many riders passed me. After getting back on track, I tried to push to recover as much as possible. The second race went down well – no mistakes or troubles. The race no.1 and the qualifiers were starting to feel, though. The only regret I have for the race no.2 was that I did not pedal hard enough on the fire roads.
It was a weekend full of overtaking. From the video only, I counted more than 20 overtaking! It was a carnage run where I spent a lot of energy, especially mentally. Final result: 30th out of 450!
It is hard to describe the race and the event in words, so I suggest you watch the video and see yourself.
It was my first Maxiavalanche, and it was a great experience. Full of adrenaline. The race and the organization were mint.
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Giacomo’s additions to his usual training program for the Maxiavalanche 2020
- Include long descents with lots of pedalling in between into the training program
- Simulate riding situations that increase downhill fatigue, like overtaking and the adrenaline rush of the start.
- 1-2 minute hard uphill warm-up before the downhill training
- Secrets 😉
How was the bike – would you change something on it?
The Evolink 158 was a great bike for this type of racing. Very stable in the fast and rough sections thanks to the long and slack geometry of Pole. The aluminium frame makes the bike less nervous and saves you energy on long descents. I prepared the bike for this race with tyre inserts inside both the wheels, I put a larger 34t chainring and added a bash guard. Finally, I applied a new protective film on the frame to prevent some stone impacts. Otherwise, the bike is the same as I use in the enduro races.
Maxiavalanche is a shorter version and a COVID-19 replacement of the Megavalanche. It is a marathon downhill race with a mass start at Alpe d’Huez in France. Information, results and content of the event can be found here: https://www.ucc-sportevent.com/en/maxiavalanche-alpe-dhuez/.