Monday, June 29, 2009

France: Endurance rider completes 140km course in average of 15.31km/hr



Alpedhueznet.com - Full Article

by Vickie Allen | Les Deux Alpes Snow Reporter | published 29-Jun-2009

On its opening weekend, Alpe d'Huez was hosted the fifth annual Equestrian Raid; a weekend of endurance races in which riders from across the continent take part in one of two routes, either 90km or 140km.

This is the only endurance trial of its type in France, with riders taking part at an average altitude of 1800m. The season for horse endurance trials runs from February to November across France, and is a growing sport that test the stamina of both horses and riders alike.

The first event to be completed at the weekend was the 90km trial, which was won by Fabienne Dusserre on Saturday. The main event, however, was the 140km trial, which took place over two days. Riders and horses set-off from Rif Nel early on Saturday morning and completed 35km before horses were checked by the official vet. Teams then completed a further 35km in the afternoon, before returning to their accommodation at Ski Plan's Beau Soleil hotel, next to the DMC lift. The health of the horses is paramount in these competitions and 10% of horses were not deemed fit enough to continue into Day Two. The disqualifications were disappointing but are considered by all as a necessary part of these types of contest, designed to protect the horses.

At 10am on Sunday, the second stage of the trial started. The start was staggered according to the finishing positions of the previous day. It was clear that Ludovic Saroul and Michel Denayer were the only real contenders for the podium, as the majority of competitors left the pen an hour after the two leaders. On Day Two temperatures in resort soared to 25*C, making the combination of altitude and heat very challenging for both riders and horses alike.

Seven hours later, the apparent winner was Saroul, who rode the course at an average of 15.31km per hour. However, horses must pass a further inspection by the official vet and then have 40 minutes to warm-down, in which time their hearts must return to a safe resting rate of 64 beats/minute. Saroul was confirmed as the winner of the E1500 prize money later that night, once all 32 riders had completed the course and the horses were signed-off.

In second place, was Michel Denayer who walked the last 30km of the course after his horse lost two shoes. Rules state that riders must cross the finish line on horseback, so Denayer mounted for the last few metres after leading his horse up to the finish line at Poutran (2000m).

The event was a success and provided a healthy start to Alpe d'Huez's 2009 summer season. In the coming weeks the resort will be host to further events, such as cycle races La Marmotte, 21 Bends and Megavalanche and its very own Triathlon. We'll keep you up to date with the events and results every week.

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