Racing a prototype Reign bike on home soil in France, Deniaud kicked off the final round in Loudenvielle with a sizzling run in Saturday’s opening Pro Stage. With his family and friends there to watch, the Frenchman attacked the 2.4km course, which challenged riders with slick roots, rocks and steep, technical terrain over a rugged 480-meter descent.
Deniaud’s time of 5:38:09 on the Pro Stage was nearly 4 seconds faster than second-place finisher Jesse Mellamed of Canada.
“It was awesome to have my family and friends here to watch our last EWS of the season,” said Deniaud, who wore his Giant Line shoes to take the opening stage victory. “The weather has been tricky all week, but I started the weekend strong.”
The following day was a long one, with five stages in the high peaks of the Pyrenees. A big crash on Stage 3 set Deniaud back, but he was able to recover and carry on.
“Sunday was hard, with a little crash on Stage 2 and a big one at the top of Stage 3,” he said. “I lost more than 10 seconds on that one, but I still managed to finish that one in fifth place.”
Deniaud had a sprained wrist from the crash but was still sitting fourth overall heading into the final stage. “I was in sight of the podium, so my plan was to keep it smooth,” he said. “I was on a great run but got off my line near the bottom and took out my derailleur on a big rock. It cost me time, but I’m still very happy to finish the season with a top five.”
It was a strong finish to the season for Deniaud, who had his two best results in the two final rounds: seventh at Crans-Montana, Switzerland, and fifth at Loudenvielle. He finished the series 14th overall.
“I learned a lot this season developing the new bike, and I’m stoked to feel this level of confidence in my pace and with the bike,” Deniaud said. “Next up I have a small break, and then I will get back to training for the 2023 season.”
Deniaud’s teammate Mckay Vezina also wrapped up his season in Loudenvielle. The Canadian had a solid 2022 EWS campaign, highlighted by three top-20 finishes including 15th at Whistler. He ended up 24th overall in the rankings, an improvement on his 2021 season, when he finished 32nd overall.