The 10th edition of the Enduro Salines race, a single-day event with a mix of fast singletrack and technical, rocky terrain, produced tight racing at the front of the men’s field. Deniaud chose his Reign Advanced Pro 29 race bike and Giant Line shoes for the three stages that covered 35km and more than 4500 feet of vertical.
“I had a tough start to the race with a crash on Stage 1, losing my water bottle and 10 seconds to Damien Oton,” Deniaud said. “I stayed calm and gained time back by winning Stage 2, which meant three of us were nearly tied heading into the final stage.”
The final stage was the longest, testing riders on their technical skills and physical strength. “I pushed as hard as I could and took the win by 6 seconds,” Deniaud said. “I’m happy about my fitness and speed, and I’m excited to work on a few things before the first Enduro World Series event in Val di Fassa [Italy].”
Deniaud’s win was the latest in a series of spring successes for the Giant Factory Off-Road Team. Last weekend XC pro Antoine Philipp showed strong early-season form with a career best result at the elite level. The former French Under-23 national champion finished sixth against a deep field of pro men at the Ötztaler Mountainbike Festival in Austria.
Philipp made the move up from the U23 ranks last year and is already proving a contender among the best pros in the world. The 23-year-old showed power and poise, making his way through the field to put himself in the top-10. Racing in chilly temperatures on a technically challenging track, the Frenchman scored the impressive sixth-place finish riding his Anthem Advanced Pro 29 and wearing a Giant Rev Pro helmet and Charge Pro shoes.
“The start lap was intense, and my start position wasn’t ideal for how technical the track was,” Philipp said. “I remained calm, then lap after lap I picked off some more riders ahead.”
In the end, Philipp edged out German Maximilian Brandl to finish sixth, 1:54 off the winning pace of Swiss rider Mathias Flueckiger. “For most of the race I was in battle with Brandl, and on the last lap we came back to catch Luca Braidot, the Italian champion, for a pretty crazy final lap. I am happy with my performance and the result. Sixth place in an HC race is my best performance among the elites so far. Being outpaced only be top elites like Flueckiger, [Nino] Schurter and Ondrej Cink is motivating for the future.”
Meanwhile, in North America first-year Giant Factory Off-Road Team rider Luke Vrouwenvelder scored a podium finish at the US. Pro Cup XC race in Arkansas. Racing against many of the top North American XC pros, Vrouwenvelder rode his Anthem Advanced Pro 29 to a third-place finish in the elite men’s XC race.
“I pushed hard early to stay in contact with the lead group,” Vrouwenvelder said. “I was able to work my way through the riders ahead. It feels great to put a result on the board.”
Vrouwenvelder’s American teammate Stephan Davoust also scored several top-10 finishes over two weeks of racing in Arkansas. Davoust opened his season finishing 7th in the short track and 10th in the XC race.