ElliptiGO European Championships 2016 Report
September 8, 2016
Each September, since 2013, the ElliptiGO European Championships have been held in the picturesque French town of Aix-les-Bains, where the ‘Mediterranean’ weather always seems to find its way into the Alpes for perfect summer temperatures! The event has served as not only a competitive outlet for ElliptiGO riders, but also a great family getaway just before the end of the school holidays (and many of the participants treat it as a short family break – with some hard riding interspersed)! The 2016 race took place on 4th September…
Dozens of ElliptiGO riders from around Europe attended the race – with the French riders dominating the numbers. Eric Bouvier (the race organiser) had published short bios for each competitor in the weeks prior – which created even more familiarity with each other (and made sure that there were no ‘dark horses’ in the field)! Local rivalries were stoked with ‘teams’ from various parts of France who made the trip together to Aix-les-Bains. The dynamic was lively among the different groups – and great fun!
The British and American teams were represented in the male category by ultra-distance ElliptiGO rider Billy Grace from the UK and Nat Waller from the USA (who took 2nd place on the mountain – and who had also finished 7th in last year’s World Championships). The exuberant Kitty Vernooij joined the women’s field from Netherlands, after completing the Benelux ElliptiGO Marathon just the weekend prior. Camaraderie was high throughout the riders – and also among the spectators.
The course makes for a tough ride up the superb road leading to the summit of Mt Revard, ending with the neighbouring Mt Blanc in full view from the finish line. But it’s definitely rideable for the average rider who has trained prior to the event and ridden their ElliptiGO regularly.
Many of the competitors don’t hail from hilly areas but are still able to do well in the race – based on good overall fitness and endurance – and by simply using appropriate pacing strategies to ensure a smooth passage to the summit (with an even energy expenditure throughout the race probably being the best strategy).
The starting gun goes off in Aix-les-Bains town centre, before the course winds up the serpentine road which leads out of town and onto the mountain. The race itself is 12.5-miles long, with an average gradient around 7% (and, importantly, no breaks in the climbing – except for a flat 200m section).
A number of participants bested their time from last year and both the men’s and women’s races were fiercely fought out – with close finishes (after a series of decisive breakaways had whittled the leading groups down to just two athletes in each race).
Men’s winner Damien Douvry defended his title for the third time – against pressure from Nat Waller of the US – and we had new ladies on the women’s podium with Veronique Cremers (from Bretagne) winning the women’s title, in the absence of Britain’s Squash Falconer, who has won the previous three races.
Particularly noteworthy were the rides of French riders Bruno Pollet (3rd placed finisher) and Eric Bouvier (the race organiser and 18th placed finisher) who both competed on the new ElliptiGO Arc. They had both trained well for the ascent and became the first people to complete the EEC on the ElliptiGO Arc – setting the standard for future Arc riders. Well done Bruno and Eric!
Trophies, gifts, medals – and a well-earned lunch at the top of Mt. Revard – were a terrific way to cap off a beautiful ascent and good-willed competition at the EEC 2016. Photo souvenirs were plentiful too, so check out social media for more fun images!