Adidas Natventure (GER) find their stride in the rugged wilderness of southern Idaho.
After an exciting ride down the white water of the swollen Payette River, the teams got no break as they made the long, uphill ridge to Granite Peak.
The 15 kilometer section of canoeing down the Payette River, rended more turbulent and capricious by recent heavy rains, was a rude awakening for many teams.
Members of GoLite Timberland (AUS) take the mountain bike leg through the wooded mountains of the Idaho course.
In a fascinating dual of attrition that pitted some of the world's top adventure racing athletes against Idaho's magnificent forest trails, punishing mountain ascents and some of the finest stretches of white-water ever seen on the circuit, started early on June 10 on the mist shrouded waters of Lake Payette. At 06:00 sharp, the 31 teams from 11 different countries paddled the 10 kilometers into McCall, where, even at this early stage, the race for points and glory had begun to revive old rivalries among the frontrunners. French giants Les Arcs-Quechua were joined by compatriot hopefuls WILSA Sport/Helly Hansen and ERTIPS in a pincer movement designed to hold the mighty NIKE clan, fielding 2 teams (a rare event) at bay on this stage.
For a while the strategy seemed to be working, as the French teams valiantly held off the American legends on the first 2 sections, but once bikes became involved, any attempt to thwart one of the globe's most formidable MTB squads proved futile. Nike (USA) took the lead and never relinquished it, despite the best efforts of archrivals Les Arcs-Quechua (FRA), who pulled out all the stops on the ropes, downhill treks and MTB dashes. The American superstar team consolidated their initial narrow lead by sweeping the next three sections of the day but the French always looked dangerous.
At the end of the first day, Ian Adamson, racing with Nike/Beaver Creek (USA) and lying in 3rd place just behind Les Arcs-Quechua had vowed to make it a NIKE 1 and 2 race. It was a promise that spurred the French to greater efforts but which was almost fulfilled as the NIKE "reserves" put in a monstrous effort on the last MTB climb to come within 6 minutes of a stunning result. The French held on but then it was Ian Adamson's turn to sweat as his 3rd place came under attack.
WILSA Sport/Helly Hanson (FRA) faded after a spirited start to the race, the restructured team made a courageous and breathtaking comeback that brought them to within 3 minutes of a shocking result. NIKE (USA) are back in the driving seat but for how long?
This, the second stage of The Raid World Cup 2006 will took the top adventure racing teams from around the world to the State of Idaho, where the appropriately named Gem state boasts a veritable treasure trove of outdoor splendors. With almost 70 percent of Idaho open to the public, from state parks and county parks to national monuments and reserves, it's hardly surprising that Idaho offers some of the best outdoor recreation and sightseeing to be had in the west. The course for this face-off between New and Old World squads was centered around the Southwestern corner amidst mountain, clear alpine lakes and canyons carved from free-flowing rivers and cascading waterfalls. Nestled in the heart of the region on the banks of the Payette Lake, which extends to the south as the Cascade Reservoir, is one of Idaho's most popular resorts, the small town of McCall (pop. 2,700). McCall is the jewel in the crown of this region.
Stage 1 of the Raid World Cup was held in Australia in March. Stage 3 will be held in the Savoie Region of France July 14-16. The final stop for the Raid World Cup for the years, the Raid World Championship, will happen in the very different wilds of Quebec, Canada, September 10 through 16th. For that event, which comes at the end of the three stages of the Raid World Cup 2006, the final ranking based on the results of each team from all three stages will by then be established. The best teams from each part of the World will qualify to take part in the Raid World Championship. Stayed tuned to GreatOutdoors.com for results from the Stage 3 competition in Franch, and the World Championships in Quebec.