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Iron Matt: Part 2

| Blog, Mountain Biking Uk | 03/08/2011 11:18am

The second installment of enduro madman, Matt Page’s, assault on one of the planet’s toughest mountain bike races.

Stage 6: Rif Selleries to Sestriere

Distance: 111km

Climbing: 4626m

Max Altitude: 3131m

Last night I found out that I had moved up 2 places to 7th overall and I was really close to 6th, effectively about 8 minutes behind which seemed possible. We also found out that Stage 6 would be shortened, as it was due to be 125km with about 6000m climbing. We would also miss out the fort which includes the 4000 steps due to rain overnight they were deemed too dangerous, which again was probably sensible but I was looking forward to that bit!

It was an early start this morning, 5.30am wake up for 7am start. I left with all the top riders and decided that I would put a big effort into the first special stage, which was about 65km long then just see what the legs had left for Mt Chaberton.

Todays route started high, around 2000m but went higher, up to 2600m and stayed above 2000m with lots of up and downs for 30km. It then dropped on some really nice singletrack towards Sestriere before heading out again on some really nasty undulations. I pushed hard and managed to keep a good gap on all the chasers, the special stage finished on a awesome bit of wooded singletrack and I managed to catch the two brothers who were infront of me overall just as it ended, which was a great result for me. Then came a 10km transition to the start of stage 2, Mt Chaberton.

There was food & water near the start of the stage, so I waited, ate loads and hung around for over 30 minutes with all the other top riders. No one was willing to head off first, all watching each other.

The record to the top is 2 hours and 1 minute, set last year by Ismael Ventura who is currently in the lead.

I headed off and we were straight into the climb, my legs were sleepy after standing around for so long, but after about 5 or 10 minutes they started to work.

I eventually did in 2hrs 41minutes. Not fast at all, but by no means the slowest. I only stopped briefly to eat something (the race helicopter transports people/food/drink to the top), put my dhb Windslam jersey on and take a few pictures.

The route back down was the same for a while, then diverted off down a steep and very sketchy scree slope. About 95% of the downhill was rideable, but there were a few sections where the rock drops were too big or the scree was too dangerous to ride.

At the end of the day, I was totally spent and never thought I would see the end. In total it took me 9hrs 50min and it was the hardest day of riding I have ever done. More to come…

You can read more of how Matt is getting on right here in the next couple of days. In the mean time, keep ‘er lit, buddy!

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