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12. Oktober 2013, 20:58

Family Meeting in the Roc

Austrian Elisabeth Osl's triumph in the Ladies' Roc d'Azur topped another day of sport and festivities at the nature base in Fréjus. Regardless of whether they took part in the Roc Tandem, the Kid Roc, the Rando Roc Noire Powerade, the fancy dress Rando Roc Rouge, the Maxima Roc Down or the Roc Ruelles in Fréjus or Roquebrune-sur-Argens, regardless of whether they only dropped by the show and the activity area, all the competitors and spectators in the 30th Roc d'Azur enjoyed once again the blue skies over the Var and this event's unique atmosphere. Foto aso Rider LADIES' ROC D'AZUR

Nice, 12.10.13 Red. (mk) LADIES' ROC D'AZUR : A beaming Elisabeth Osl

The Ladies' Roc d'Azur has rarely been so close. Austrian's Elisabeth came out on top in a tight sprint to win the 30th edition of the Ladies' Roc d'Azur (44 km) and her second victory at the Fréjus nature base. Osl, the last rider to win before four years of Polish domination, spent the entire race at the front. The Austrian champion and winner of the overall classification in the 2009 World Cup went off the front with Slovenia's Blaža Klemenčič from the very start. Elisabeth Osl, fourteenth in the last World Championships and a regular fixture on the Roc podium (1st in 2008, 2nd in 2010 and 3rd in 2006, 2007 and 2009), bounced back from last year's disappointment, when a flat tyre knocked her out of the leading group, by containing Czech Tereza Hurikova, who had made her way back to the front after a troubled start to the race. As Klemenčič (Slovenian champion and 11th in the Worlds) started to fade, Osl and Hurikova waited until the final few hundred metres to settle the score.

Fanny Bourdon, no stranger to the top 10 in the Ladies' Roc (6th in 2011, 7th in 2009 and 2012, and 8th in 2010), pleased the local crowds with a fourth place after being in the mix for a podium place for a long time. Hélène Marcouyre, runner-up in Friday's Roc Marathon Mondovélo, came in 6th place. Team Scott La Clusaz's Marine Strappazzon finished ninth overall, which was good enough for her to take the Espoirs race ahead of Italians Marta Pastore and Cindy Casadei.

Elisabeth Osl (AUT, 1st with a time of 2 h 08′25″): "I'm over the moon. Winning the Roc d'Azur is so much fun. Usually, I'm not very good at sprinting, so I was a bit nervous ahead of the finish with Tereza. I love this race because, unlike the World Cup circuits, where we ride many laps, here we get to discover the course inch by inch. You've got to be careful, but it also makes things challenging. The atmosphere's always terrific. It's already snowing back home in Austria, but the weather here's great. It's the best way to end the season."

Teresa Hurikova (CZE, 2nd with a time of 2 h 08′25″): "Second place is okay, but I'm disappointed with my strategy in the sprint. I didn't know the finish and I was in a bad position before the final straight. The start didn't go well either. I got in trouble on the first climb. I was riding in 5th place before I managed to recover a bit and find my way back onto the front of the race, thanks mostly to the descents, where I had the edge."

Fanny Bourdon (4th overall and 1st French rider, with a time of 2 h 16′45″): "I've been in good shape since the French Championships in Forestière. I tried to keep the momentum going, but it's never easy. I tried to hang onto the leaders on the first climb, but the pace was too high and I didn't want to go into the red. In the end, I'm happy with this fourth place, which is my best result here so far. I've had quite a good season, although the summer was tougher. I had some trouble balancing my studies (she is in the fifth year of her Medicine degree) and my training."

ROC TANDEM : Two better than one !

Spain's Adrià Noguera Soldevila and Cristofer Bosque Ruano (21 and 22 years old, respectively) posted a time of 2 h 07′28″ to win take their maiden win at the Roc Tandem (44 km), the biggest tandem race in the world, with over 250 teams on the start line. "This was our second start", explained the winning pilot. "We aren't used to this, but we found this fun the first time despite falling at the beginning of the race. We got off to a quick start this time round." France's Alexandre Pelletier and Maxime Gentet trailed the winners by just under two minutes. Laura Metzler and Damien Guillemet finished fourth overall and first in the mixed category. "Tandems are a different beast, because we only hop onto the bike the day before the race", explained Laura. You've got to trust the pilot and communicate a lot."

However, beyond the fight for victory, the Roc Tandem is first and foremost about shared experiences, and lots of couples come here to embark on an adventure together. In good times and in bad... At the Roc, it's mostly the former. Anne-Marie and Christophe Chambard came all the way from Corrèze. "It all started as a silly bet", said a shivering Anne-Marie. "We were having a laugh with friends at the end of the evening and, two years later, we're here on the start line... I'll soon turn 50 and it's my first year riding a MTB. I'm putting my trust in my husband, he's used to this sport. I'll just stay behind him with my eyes closed." "Nonsense, you've got to keep them open", retorted Christophe. "The landscapes are breathtaking." Three hours later, a sweet kiss on the finish line marks the end of the Roc Tandem for the couple.

Cédric Vinchon may have been left blind by retinal degeneration, but today he was beaming on the "Blind" tandem designed by himself. "We finished in the top 30 and were six minutes faster than last year. Serge (Pereira) rode like a god! We didn't fall or have any mechanicals despite the fact that it was the first time we rode a 29er. Mission accomplished." Cédric, a former motorcycle racer based in Fontainebleau, is used to tandem racing in MTB, but even more so on the road. "Unfortunately, there aren't enough disabled MTB tandem events in France", he deplored. "It's not always easy to find pilots. Tandem racing is a team sport. I dream of a day when the Roc Tandem is the final event of a disabled MTB series." A day when even more great stories can be shared.

KID ROC: Passing the torch

"Go, Jules, overtake him!" "Come on, Marion, you're almost there." "You're doing great, sweetie-pie!" Standing along the course, parents are even more tense than their offspring. This is the magic element of the Kid Roc, which gives children their first chance to spin the wheels and feel the rush of competition every year, on distances ranging from 2.3 km for the youngest (5 years and older) to 8 km for those over 14 years. Parents shouting themselves hoarse and children giving it their all, sometimes running out of breath but with a fiery ambition burning in their eyes. And maybe, just maybe, some of them will one day be champions.

ROC RUELLES FREJUS: A hair-raising experience

The event shakes the alleys and lanes of Fréjus every year, and the 2013 edition was no exception. Under the gaze of huge crowds, Titouan Perrin-Ganier and Jeremy Arnould won the final of this electrifying race held over several laps of an 800 m urban circuit. The duo also clocked the fastest lap of the evening, with a time of 2′00″038. An unsurprising victory, especially considering that Titouan Perrin-Ganier specialises in Cross Country Eliminator and is the French champion in this discipline. Maxime Herold and Hugo Drechou took the middle step on a podium rounded off by Switzerland's Yannick Sarret and Christophe Geiser.

ACTIVITIES: To each his own MTB

With 26 races on the menu, sport was obviously the main course, but the sprawling village also features many activities. Although the cross-country remains the core of the Roc d'Azur, the event aims to bring all the families of MTB together. Every year, the BMX Roc Contest gathers all the fans of the sport around a somewhat more extreme and acrobatic version. The pro finals, featuring several international champions, will be held on Sunday. The exhibitions at the Freestyl'Air Show, the Big Air Bag and the Roc 'n' Ride, with the finals, are also worth watching on the last day of the Roc d'Azur.

RANDO ROC NOIRE POWERADE – FANCY DRESS RANDO ROC ROUGE DEGUISEE

The rider lasted just over 3 hours for some... and much longer for others. But time is not of the essence. The 52 km Rando Roc Noire Powerade was just an excuse to go on an adventure in Les Maures massif. Sometimes alone, often with friends and sometimes even with the family. All 3,000 participants will take home lots of images and memories to talk about on their next training rides. The same applies to the fancy dress Rando Roc Rouge, albeit on a shorter distance (20 km).

MEN'S AZUR D'AZUR: Everyone's dream

This is the fabled race of the week. Once again, the Roc d'Azur (56 km) has attracted over 5,000 participants from all over the world. Some of the best mountain bikers in the world will be leading the charge. The winner of Friday's Roc Marathon Mondovélo, Austria's Alban Lakata, showed he was the man to watch at the end of the season. "I'll have no pressure on my shoulders, so why not?", said a calm Lakata, who already won the race in 2010. As usual, Swiss Christoph Sauser, third on Friday, could be his main opponent, together with German Jochen Kass, who was last year's runner-up and fifth on Friday's Marathon. Frenchman Stéphane Tempier, who won last year's edition at the end of a fantastic race, will be back to defend his title. However, the fact that he only returned from Malaysia, where he took part in the Langkawi Challenge, five days ago makes him play down his chances. "The run-up to the Roc d'Azur is always tricky", explained the rider from Gap. "You're pushed to the limit and you have to focus on the objective. The end-of-season atmosphere makes this a festive event, but there's no doubt things will get harder if you party the night before the race..."

On the other hand, two-time Olympic champion Julien Absalon will not be on the start line. "For once, I was thinking of really preparing for the race in earnest (he often takes part in it for fun)", explained the rider from the Vosges. But I broke two ribs at the World Championships in Pietermaritzburg (South Africa) in early September. I had to take a three-week break and only got back on my bike ten days ago. I would have come up a bit short. It's no big deal, after all, because I like to take part in the Roc with no pressure."

TRI ROC : Three times as much fun

The second edition of the Tri Roc will be held on Sunday morning on the back of the successful opening edition. The competitors will start on the beach for 1,500 m of swimming, followed by 24 km of MTB in Les Maures massif and, to top it all, 12 km of trail running within the Fréjus nature base: this is what awaits those who take part in the race supported by Marion Lorblanchet, junior world champion (2002) and elite French champion (2007) in "classic" triathlon and two-time European champion (2010–2011) and world runner-up in X-Terra (2011), the off-road version of triathlon.

Malia Metella is taking the plunge again for Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque

As in the first edition, the Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque will be represented by a female and a male team. Malia Metella, Olympic runner-up in 50 m in 2004 and world runner-up in 100 m in 2005 (European champion in 2004) will tackle the swimming section and will be relayed by Cécile Ravanel (junior world champion in 1998) and then Anne Valéro, a world-class trail runner (winner of the 2008 Paris Ecotrail). "Helping out for such causes is always a pleasure" confided Malia Metella. "The first time I was asked to take part in a relay triathlon, I dived into the water the day after following a four-year break from swimming. It's great to be able to help sick children and give them a second chance. We give it our all even if though it's just for fun!" The other team representing the association will defend the title won last year with Olivier Marceau ("classic" triathlon world champion in 2000), Cédric Ravanel (cross-country MTB world runner-up) and Laurent Bocquillet (former professional triathlete).

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