Posts Tagged ‘france’

Red Bull Road Rage, Mont Ventoux – From disappointment to relief

July 12, 2013

In March of this year, the exciting news broke when Red Bull announced it was planning to run 4 Road Rage events in 2013. This was greeted with delight by the Road Rage faithful community, as 2012 had been completely barren and Road Rage aficionados were beginning to lose hope of seeing more events organised. Locations announced included Denver, France, Bosnia and Brazil.

After clarifying some communication points on the Red Bull press release, it transpired that the first event would go ahead in France, descending 6km and 445m from the top of the mythical Mont Ventoux. The excitement at a longer course was evident by the positive comments that floated about in the build-up. All the big names, including three of the top Road Rage racers from France, Guillaume Gualandi (World #1 2008/2009) along with his multiple podium standing team mates Frédéric Mazières and David Lacoste, not to mention ex track World Champion and 2 time Road Rage runner-up Christian Lademann from Germany and the most recent Red Bull Road Rage Champion Piotr Szafraniec from Poland, to name but a few of the stars, were all set to be on the start line.


Wild scences from the last Road Rage podium celebrations in France, with (l-r) Cédric Gracia, Guillaume Gualandi, Frédéric Moncassin, David Lacoste and Frédéric Mazières.

Then 10 days before the event an unexpected announcement came: The competent authorities had issued a non-favourable response to Red Bull in relation to the event and it was promptly cancelled. Naturally the riders were immensely disappointed at this turn-about, but there was nothing to be done, only wait for the next event.

Having booked my flight tickets 2 months in advance, I decided I would go anyway to test out my newly rebuilt Black Sheep Bikes Road Rage Custom 2. After riding the original bike for nearly two years, I provided feedback to the guys at Black Sheep and wanted to have a few things changed to be able to go even faster. The modifications were discussed and the bike sent back to the BSB HQ in Fort Collins where the rear triangle was rebuilt. I got the bike back the day before I flew out and so would have to wait until I was in France before I could unpack it and test it out.

Road Rage Race Day

Saturday 8 June was the planned race date, so I thought it would only be fitting to venture up on the same day for the first test run on the new machine. I drove up to Bédoin, with the intention of making one ascent to the summit of Mont Ventoux followed by a full descent. The weather had turned by the afternoon and not long into the start of the ascent, it started to rain. I toiled on up the climb until I emerged above the tree line only to be surrounded by thick cloud cover and ever increasingly strong winds. It was a struggle up to the top as winds gusted strongly between 80-100km/h, the rain driving down in sheets and the temperature barely 6 °C at the summit (not including the wind chill factor). My hands were completely numb at this stage and I was nearly blown over several times on the summit so strong was the wind.

To watch the clip to get a true sense of the terrible conditions on that day, please click here.

Under these conditions, the descent was incredibly dangerous, and on several occasions I got blown across the road without warning. Visibility was down to about 30m due to the thick cloud cover and the wind was driving the rain so hard it was cutting painfully into my face. It became abundantly clear to me that the competent authorities in the sous-prefecture of Carpentras had made the only sensible and correct decision by cancelling the event, which in hindsight was a big relief. It would have been irresponsible to hold the race under these conditions and emergency services would not have been able to respond effectively had someone gone over the side of the road. I was relieved to get back down to the shelter of the tree line. From here on it was business as usual taking a little extra care due to the wet road.

Black Sheep Bikes Road Rage Custom 2 Test Day

Two days later the weather had turned for the better and I decided to embark on a triple assault of Mont Ventoux, that is to say, climb every one of the three sides. Well, I really only wanted to cycling down each descent, but that inevitably meant I would also have to cycle up each side. I commenced in Bédoin and nearly failed on my mission before I got started. 2.5km into the climb I realised my bottom bracket was creaking a bit. Upon quick inspection I realised that the previous ride had probably been the nail in the coffin for my bottom bracket bearings, so I turned around straight away and went to the Bédoin Location bike shop to have a new set of bearings and cups installed. I received friendly, quick service and 45mins later it was mission on again and I commenced the trip in earnest. A little under two hours and the summit was reached. A short break later and I was plummeting down the western descent towards Malaucène a breakneck speeds. 20min34sec later I had completed the first descent of 21.6km at an average speed of 62.9km/h, currently 44sec faster than the next best time. I checked my Garmin to see I had hit and maximum speed 117.5km/h! Going in the right direction I thought, having bettered my previous PB of 115km/h set back in 2008 during the Ötztaler Cycling Marathon race in Austria while descending the Kühtai into Innsbruck.

To watch the full clip of the descent from the summit of Mont Ventoux to Malaucène, please click here.

After refilling my water bottles at the village fountain, it was back on the saddle for the slog back up. Again, it was around two hours of steady climbing before I would reach the top. It was also the first time I was able to admire the stunning views on the way up, that I had missed on the way down due to having to concentrate fully on the road. Again a short break was afforded, before I plummeted down in the direction of Sault. This is the longest descent at 25.1km, but with the least elevation difference, making the gradient somewhat gentler, a welcome relief after the first two tough ascents. Unfortunately my progress was interrupted by some roadworks which killed any chance of grabbing a triple crown of Strava KOMs for the descents. Well, it’ll leave something to aim for on my next visit.

Again a quick bottle refill was made at the village fountain, before the last climb back to the summit. With about 6km to go from Chalet Reynard, another cyclist I had passed at the beginning of the climb fell into pace with me. He had been shadowing me at about 100m back or so the entire time. As he drew level with me, my unusual looking bike caught his eye and was enough to start us chatting and I got to know him as Bernard. It turns out he is the cousin of a famous former professional road and track rider and multiple national French champion Charley Grosskost, from the era of  Eddy Merckx and Luis Ocaña, at one time even riding for 5 time Tour de France winner Jacques Anquetil. Bernard was no slouch in his day either, winning the Alsace 100km team time trial title and taking podiums in other notable races. We exchanged many cycling stories before we reached the summit for the last time that day. At the top he took the only photos I have of the day as he luckily had a camera with him. We exchanged emails and he left before me while I sent a quick text to my friend who I was going to meet in the village, to let him know I would be down in about 20mins. I also tucked in anything that might fly out on the super fast descent that was to ensue.


Summit of the Col du Mont Ventoux (1912m)

Once ready, I clipped in, switched into downhill race speed mode and let rip. A nice 50km/h westerly tail wind meant that I had a wind assisted descent on the exposed top part, the same section the Red Bull road Rage would have taken place on. I picked up speed quickly and passed the Col des Tempêtes not long after, continuing to accelerate hard. I quick glance down at my Garmin where I spotting 108km/h on the screen and I was still picking up speed rapidly. I passed Bernard after a short while later flicking him a quick wave of the hand as I negotiated the bend. As he was in my racing line, I had to go wide in order not to cut across him. This also pushed me wide on the exit and made for an additional adrenaline rush. Back on the power and flat out the rest of the way, slowing marginally for the ensuing bends. Chalet Reynard was reached rapidly and from there on it was a roller coaster ride to Bédoin. 21min19sec later I had completed the final descent of 21.3km at an average speed of 59.8km/h, a mere 3sec faster than the next best time. Now for the moment of truth as I checked my Garmin to see my maximum speed: 131.8km/h! I could hardly believe it! Total trip distance was 139.3km, including 4463m of total elevation gain, taking me 7h18m to complete.

It was only then I not only understood, but could also fully appreciate just how significant the improvements and modifications to my second generation Black Sheep Bikes Road Rage Custom were in terms of performance. The guys in Fort Collins worked their magic like only they know how, using their decades of experience to pull the best out of the machine following the feedback I provided. In addition to the bike now being much much faster, it is also more stable at high speeds, handles better in corners, doesn’t lift the rear end under heavy breaking on extremely steep descents, but the nicest and most unexpected added bonus was that the bike is now also super comfortable on longer rides. To find out more about their wonderful two wheeled, creations of working art, just visit the Black Sheep Bikes web page.

To watch the full clip of the final descent from the summit of Mont Ventoux to Bédoin, please click here.

Advertisements announce sponsorship deal for 2010

April 2, 2010

In Rengg, Switzerland, at Red Bull Road Rage 2009 with François-Xavier Plaçais of Trajectoires Cycles

In anticipation of a brand new Red Bull Road Rage season, I am delighted to share Trajectoires Cycles recently issued press release on a 2010 sponsorship deal: Snap up Irish Road Rage Downhill Ace

Trajectoires Cycles Nantes, France have agreed a sponsorship deal with the undeniably quick Irishman Janos Köhler. The deal is initially for the duration of the 2010 Red Bull Road Rage downhill road racing season which kicks off in Belgium this coming May. Trajectoires Cycles were eager to have Köhler on board after he turned heads by beating the likes of Cédric Gracia and Frédéric Moncassin as a newcomer to the international downhill road scene in 2009.

With the fastest time against the clock in Rengg, Switzerland (2nd overall) and fastest time in the wet in France (6th overall), François-Xavier Plaçais, owner and managing director of Trajectoires Cycles, believes it’s only a matter of time before Köhler graces the top step of the podium. ‘It’s great to have such amazing talent wearing our colours and we’re really happy to be able to help him in what are difficult times for new athletes finding sponsorship.’

Trajectoires Cycles shop in Nantes are France’s leading fixed wheel and single-speed retailer and are also stocked with the latest high end mountain and road bikes. As part of the deal with Köhler they will be providing all on-site parts, mechanical assistance, and local transport requirements at the Red Bull Road Rage races.

Red Bull Road Rage – Cycle Inn rider Janos Köhler 6th in France

September 26, 2009

Leading in the Quarter Final

On the 12th of September a unique road race, the Red Bull Road Rage, took place high in the French Pyrennees.  I represented Ireland amongst a World Class field thanks to support from Mick Jordan from The Cycle Inn and finished 6th just behind legend Cédric Gracia with Frédéric Moncassin in 1st.  Ben from recently met with me for a chat about my experiences of the race and future plans.

* What was your motivation to take part in RBRR?

I’ve always been into anything that gives me a good adrenalin kick especially if two wheels are involved. Not many people seem to be able to keep up with me on the road downhills here in Wicklow so I thought I’d give it a shot. I never expected to do so well because I’d never had the chance to race top pros but now that I’ve proved I’m at their level I’m even more motivated to do the next one.

* What characteristics do you think you need to make a good RBRR downhiller?

There are several characteristics that play a decisive role in making a good RBRR racer: It involves two distinctly different disciplines, the first one being an individual time trial for the qualifying and seeding run and the second racing as a group of four, similar to 4X in mountainbiking. There are loads of twists and turns at speeds of up to 100km/h, so you have to be a confident technical bike handler capable of high levels of concentration who is also comfortable with the fear factor and high adrenaline levels. The important thing is to get the right lines through the corners to carry your speed through as well as have qualities of a sprinter to accelerate quickly out of bends. That said doing all the above correctly doesn’t automatically result in victory, as sometimes you also have to play it smart. Drafting competitors can give you the edge in top end speed down the finishing straight and help you cross the line in first place which is why Moncassin won in the end.

* How do you feel about your 6th place considering you were lining up against such a strong field containing so many pros and ex-pros?

To be honest I was fairly disappointed not to make the final because I was one of only 2 riders to have a top 4 time in every round and I missed out through a photo finish. Then again I had the 3rd fastest time on the day and fastest time in the wet which gives me good confidence going into the next race.

* Having raced one RBRR how do you expect the experience to help you the next time ’round?

I learnt a lot about tactics and racing in the 4 cross format. Coming so close has also really fired up my motivation to try even harder to make the final and hopefully even climb up on the podium.

* Being a new event, Where do you see RBRR going from here?

I can see the sport growing over the next few years, even possibly becoming a full blown series spread over a season. Already the next event was oversubscribed so registration for male participants had to be closed early. This can only be a good sign in terms of its growing popularity. I guess time will tell how it really develops as a sport.

* When are you next racing a RBRR?

I have signed up for the next RBRR event which takes place near Nuremburg, Germany on 10 October 2009. This promises to be slightly different compared to previous events as the road will be much narrower and the course generally more technical which suits my strengths. This event is also the first RBRR where separate categories for men and women have been implemented which is good to see.

* Any last words?

I would like to say a huge thanks to my generous sponsor Mick Jordan from the Cycle Inn, without whose support this would not have been possible.


Full table of times and results for the first Red Bull Road Rage in France.

Individual time trial and seeding run – Dry road. 4th with a time of 4m19s171 – Moncassin clocks fastest time of the day and betters me by 5.9 seconds.

Pos. NAME # Qualif. time Avg. km/h
1 Frédéric Moncassin 17 04:13.271 56,86
2 Guillaume Gaulandi 15 04:16.717 56,09
3 Frédéric Mazières 1 04:18.035 55,81
4 Janos Köhler 25 04:19.171 55,56
5 Cédric Gracia 2 04:19.593 55,47
6 David Lacoste 13 04:19.606 55,47
7 Luca Pais Maden 37 04:22.147 54,93
8 Gerard D 59 04:22.733 54,81
9 Fabien Pedenanau 43 04:24.985 54,34
10 Christian Taillefer 35 04:27.597 53,81
11 Fabien Christen 31 04:27.790 53,77
12 Laurent 52 04:27.907 53,75
13 Christophe Osmont 33 04:28.664 53,60
14 mathieu Carrer 44 04:29.440 53,44
15 Romain Mazure 21 04:29.763 53,38
16 Ransimangue 63 04:31.960 52,95
17 François Xavier Plaçais 18 04:32.398 52,86
18 Philippe Cau 27 04:32.779 52,79
19 Robert G 45 04:34.210 52,51
20 Jean phillipe cerquiera 46 04:34.354 52,49
21 Emmanuel Vialard 14 04:35.831 52,21
22 Guillaume cadroas 39 04:36.263 52,12
23 Cyril Despres 110 04:36.571 52,07
24 Romain Lacoste 42 04:36.881 52,01
25 Thomas Vallé 40 04:37.120 51,96
26 Christian Grange 29 04:37.437 51,90
27 Pierre Jean Rigaud 32 04:39.102 51,59
28 Gualandi Gilbert 56 04:41.023 51,24
29 Stpartaro 57 04:41.163 51,22
30 Sebastien Castagne 38 04:41.669 51,12
31 guinand 65 04:42.082 51,05
32 Sebastien st Criq 16 04:42.849 50,91
33 Gualandi Gregory 53 04:43.239 50,84
34 Joris Favennec 11 04:43.579 50,78
35 Devierre 111 04:43.953 50,71
36 Phillipe Chabert 10 04:45.565 50,43
37 Maximilien Roblet 19 04:45.793 50,39
38 Hans Maltete 12 04:46.589 50,25
39 Raphael Pomies 7 04:47.104 50,16
40 Nicolas Caiserman 30 04:47.720 50,05
41 Steve Borloz 22 04:47.948 50,01
42 Julien Sorhabil 24 04:48.275 49,95
43 Jerome Arricastres 47 04:49.107 49,81
44 Sourimant 55 04:54.570 48,88
45 Eric Cadau 36 04:54.982 48,82
46 Laplace B 58 04:55.704 48,70
47 Augelet 61 04:57.478 48,41
48 Vincent Delveau 26 04:58.045 48,31
49 Clavairolles 48 04:58.137 48,30
50 Pierre Castagne 8 04:58.515 48,24
51 Julien Yvenec 34 05:00.088 47,99
52 Mercier 60 05:00.266 47,96
53 Esthere Leroy 20 05:01.106 47,82
54 Cyril Cabiac 41 05:02.664 47,58
55 Benoit Ricart 23 05:07.801 46,78
56 Julien Bastide 49 05:13.353 45,95
57 Faverial 51 05:13.490 45,93
58 Vignolles 50 05:25.511 44,24
59 Jerome Couppey 9 59:47.569 1,33


1/8 finals – Wet road. Fastest time this round with 4m17s187 (3rd fastest of the day and fastest time in the wet).

Pos. NAME # 1/16 finals time Avg. km/h
1 Janos Köhler 25 04:17.187 55,99
2 Guillaume Gaulandi 15 04:17.815 55,85
3 Mariani 54 04:19.609 55,47
4 Cédric Gracia 2 04:19.629 55,46
5 David Lacoste 13 04:21.680 55,03
6 Fabien Christen 31 04:22.298 54,90
7 Luca Pais Maden 37 04:22.318 54,90
8 Frédéric Mazières 1 04:23.624 54,62
9 mathieu Carrer 44 04:25.291 54,28
10 Christian Taillefer 35 04:25.818 54,17
11 Philippe Cau 27 04:27.300 53,87
12 Gualandi Gilbert 56 04:27.641 53,80
13 Frédéric Moncassin 17 04:27.726 53,79
14 Christophe Osmont 33 04:30.071 53,32
15 Romain Mazure 21 04:30.089 53,32
16 Cyril Despres 110 04:30.330 53,27
17 Gerard D 59 04:30.447 53,25
18 Laurent 52 04:30.853 53,17
19 Gualandi Gregory 53 04:31.536 53,03
20 Christian Grange 29 04:31.543 53,03
21 François Xavier Plaçais 18 04:32.234 52,90
22 Jean phillipe cerquiera 46 04:32.345 52,87
23 Guillaume cadroas 39 04:32.351 52,87
24 Emmanuel Vialard 14 04:32.381 52,87
25 Raphael Pomies 7 04:32.491 52,85
26 Fabien Pedenanau 43 04:32.701 52,81
27 Devierre 111 04:32.803 52,79
28 Robert G 45 04:33.185 52,71
29 Pierre Jean Rigaud 32 04:33.494 52,65
30 Romain Lacoste 42 04:34.673 52,43
31 Hans Maltete 12 04:34.893 52,38
32 Thomas Vallé 40 04:35.300 52,31
33 Phillipe Chabert 10 04:37.118 51,96
34 Sebastien Castagne 38 04:37.693 51,86
35 Julien Yvenec 34 04:37.703 51,85
36 Sebastien st Criq 16 04:37.934 51,81
37 guinand 65 04:38.411 51,72
38 Maximilien Roblet 19 04:39.978 51,43
39 Joris Favennec 11 04:40.710 51,30
40 Julien Sorhabil 24 04:41.899 51,08
41 Steve Borloz 22 04:43.348 50,82
42 Clavairolles 48 04:45.453 50,45
43 Jerome Couppey 9 04:46.117 50,33
44 Pierre Castagne 8 04:46.726 50,22
45 Augelet 61 04:47.386 50,11
46 Stpartaro 57 04:47.564 50,08
47 Vincent Delveau 26 04:47.639 50,06
48 Laplace B 58 04:50.941 49,49
49 Mercier 60 04:52.985 49,15
50 Esthere Leroy 20 05:01.753 47,72
51 Benoit Ricart 23 05:04.461 47,30
52 Cyril Cabiac 41 05:39.276 42,44


1/4 finals – First round under heavy rainfall which persisted until the finals. 2nd fastest time of the round with 4m33s964.

Pos. NAME # 1/8 finals time Avg. km/h
1 Cédric Gracia 2 04:32.370 52,87
2 Janos Köhler 25 04:33.964 52,56
3 Romain Mazure 21 04:34.060 52,54
4 Guillaume Gaulandi 15 04:34.276 52,50
5 Fabien Christen 31 04:35.277 52,31
6 Cyril Despres 110 04:37.715 51,85
7 Christophe Osmont 33 04:39.628 51,50
8 Frédéric Mazières 1 04:40.523 51,33
9 mathieu Carrer 44 04:41.695 51,12
10 Christian Taifler 35 04:43.516 50,79
11 Frédéric Moncassin 17 04:45.290 50,47
12 Laurent 52 04:46.612 50,24
13 François Xavier Plaçais 18 04:47.793 50,04
14 David Lacoste 13 04:48.154 49,97
15 Mariani 54 04:49.595 49,72
16 guinand 65 04:49.797 49,69
17 Fabien Pedenanau 43 04:49.929 49,67
18 Hans Maltete 12 04:50.700 49,54
19 David sabatie 28 04:52.622 49,21
20 Thomas Vallé 40 04:53.031 49,14
21 Philippe Cau 27 05:07.791 46,78
22 Jean phillipe cerquiera 46 05:14.692 45,76
23 Guillaume cadroas 39 05:14.973 45,72
24 Raphael Pomies 7 05:25.981 44,17
25 Robert G 45 06:07.274 39,21
26 Gualandi Gregory 53 06:14.038 38,50


1/2 finals – 4th fastest time of the round with 4m32s434. Mid race format change resulted in only the group winner going through to the final, thus shortening the race by one round. Missed out on a place in the final by a photo finish: 0.307s! Identical situation for Cédric Gracia who was beaten by 0.02s, but adjudicated to be close enough to be called a draw and allowed race in the final. Result: Overall 6th place.

Pos. NAME # 1/4 finals time Avg. km/h
1 David Lacoste 13 04:31.207 53,10
2 Cédric Gracia 2 04:31.227 53,09
3 Guillaume Gaulandi 15 04:32.127 52,92
4 Janos Köhler 25 04:32.434 52,86
5 Frédéric Mazières 1 04:34.768 52,41
6 mathieu Carrer 44 04:37.364 51,92
7 Christian Taillefer 35 04:42.363 51,00
8 François Xavier Plaçais 18 04:42.864 50,91
9 Frédéric Moncassin 17 04:43.622 50,77
10 Fabien Pedenanau 43 04:44.252 50,66
11 Laurent 52 04:44.754 50,57
12 Cyril Despres 110 04:45.605 50,42
13 Hans Maltete 12 04:52.674 49,20
14 Romain Mazure 21 05:01.007 47,84


Final – Frédéric Moncassin is victorious! Fastest man all day and a deserved winner!!

Pos. NAME # Finals time Avg. km/h
1 Frédéric Moncassin 17 04:25.210 54,30
2 Guillaume Gaulandi 15 04:25.441 54,25
3 David Lacoste 13 04:25.551 54,23
4 Frédéric Mazières 1 04:28.055 53,72
5 Cédric Gracia 2 04:40.683 51,30