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Pic Blanc.JPG
Alpe d'Huez and Bourg d'Oisans from Pic blanc, the start of the Mega Avalanche
Race details
Date Alps - 10/11/12 July 2009
Region French Alps, Peru and Reunion Island
Local name(s) Mega
Type Downhill marathon
Most recent Remy Absalon
Anne-Caroline Chausson
A full-face downhill helmet, chest body armour and knee and shin pads, the gear needed to compete in the Mega Avalanche.

Megavalanche is a mountainbike downhill marathon style event. The most famous round is run from the French Alps town of Alpe D'Huez, starting on the glaciated summit of the Pic Blanc (3,300m) and descending to the lush meadows of the valley bottom at Allemont (720m), after some 2000 metres down and 30 km along.

The format of the event follows three main days:

  • Practice - Lifts and courses are open and free to anyone with a race plate. Rookie riders are encouraged to ride as much of the courses as possible
  • Qualifying - Riders wake early to take the Oz cablecar to the start where six heats of about 250 riders race the qualifying course. It is said to be a true 'qualifier' as it encapsulates all the elements of the main course in a shorter and more intense run. The resulting qualifier times are broken down into 'Lines' designated by a letter. 'A' being the front.
  • Megavalanche - The top 25 riders (in 2014) from each Qualifier start the 'Mega' on freshly piste bashed snow. The following 25 from each qualifier then race in a similarly mass started event on the Saturday, called the 'Mega Challenger'. Any riders outside these two categories are grouped into the 'Mega Amateur', and the two 'Affinity' groups 1 and 2 where they can start at any time after the first two mass start races, their times being recorded automatically by transponder chip. This can be seen as an advantage as there is less traffic at the start, however the snow conditions are far worse as those riding the mega/challenger have churned numerous ruts into it, and the less experienced riders qualifying for the affinity often bunch up and stop at any and all technical sections, slowing down anybody who may be faster.

Around 2,700 participants will depart the summit of the Pic Blanc with top competitors making the 2000m descent in less than an hour (00:38:28 in 2013).

Many of the competitors are from mainland Europe, however an increasing contingent of British riders are making the pilgrimage, spurred on by ever increasing press about the event.[1]

Other rounds of the event take place in Peru and Reunion Island.

Megavalanche start
Megavalanche 2014 Front row action


While this is a downhill race at the start, the event can cover up to 30 km in blistering heat of the summer. A downhill bike (often with upward of 8 inches(203 mm) of suspension travel at each end) is not recommended to be competitive, though many competitors choose to ride them. A dual-chainring equipped 'freeride' is the bike choice, having 5-7 inches (130-178 mm) of travel and single crown forks. The 2006 winner Nicolas Vouilloz rode a 150 mm travel bike with a Dura Ace chainset and semi slick rear tyre. Whilst 'Freeride' and 'all mountain' bikes are the best choice for competing and for the long uphill climb on the 'mega' course, downhill bikes provide a much more forgiving and comfortable ride over the rocky and often rutted terrain of the qualifier course.


Competitors need physical strength for the top section, cardio for the road climbs and endurance to string it all together and keep going.

Training should include forearm work to limit arm pump, caused by hanging on to the bars and riding the rough sections. Bike set-up can also help to reduce this.

2007 Megavalanche Top 10 Results[edit]

Pos. Name Country Team Time
1 Rene Wildhaber   Switzerland Scott 00.48.39
2 Tomas Misser  Spain Commencal 00.49.17
3 Gregory Doucende  France Q 00.49.33
4 Julien Camellini  France Mojo 00.49.42
5 Mickael Pascal  France Q 00.49.47
6 Mufasa Janobi  Zimbabwe Cannondale 00.49.57
7 Sam Blenkinsop  New Zealand Gravity Group 00.50.25
8 Gregory Noce  France Commencal 00.51.18
9 Yoann Paccard  France Scott Les 2 Alpes 00.51.32
10 Silvio Bundi   Switzerland Giant Swiss Team 00.51.40

External links[edit]