Giant Factory Off-Road Team rider Youn Deniaud scored the biggest win of his career, charging to victory at Round 6 of the UCI Enduro World Cup Series in Loudenvielle, France. In downhill racing, Rémi Thirion also had a breakthrough ride, scoring his first World Cup podium since joining the team three years ago.
Deniaud has been a consistent frontrunner in international enduro racing since he joined the team five years ago, and the win at Loudenvielle marks a breakthrough for the French rider. He came into the race ranked ninth overall in the World Cup and was motivated to score a big result on home turf in France. He finished fifth here in 2022, and was aiming for his first World Cup win.
"The home race here in Loudenvielle is something special for me," Deniaud said. "I was close to the podium last year, so I expected more this year. It's hard to believe I got the win, in front of my family and friends. It's a great accomplishment but now I need to get another one. My team put me in the best position to achieve this and that gives me the confidence you need to be 100 percent each round."
Racing on his Reign Advanced Pro team bike with a prototype next-generation Giant WheelSystem, Deniaud was consistently fast throughout a long day of racing in Loudenvielle. The race was moved up a day to avoid a rainstorm that was forecast to move into the area on the weekend, and racers enjoyed dry conditions on a challenging day that included five stages for a total of about 37km of riding and more than 3000 meters of descending. The terrain ranged from fast alpine singletrack to technical steeps and bike park terrain.
"I chose to race on the mullet setup with the flip chip on my Reign Advanced Pro in the high position," Deniaud said. "That gives me more confidence on the steep sections."
Deniaud got off to a strong start, finishing third on Stage 1, and then second on Stage 2, which was the longest of the day, dropping 663 meters over 3.1km.
That put Deniaud in good position to aim for the overall win, with his main competition being fellow French riders Louis Jeandel and Alex Rudeau. Jeandel won Stage 1 and Rudeau won Stage 2, setting up a battle among the three French riders in the final three stages.
It came down to the final Stage 5, one of the toughest of the day. "I felt a bit under pace, but my riding was smooth all day and I didn't make any bad mistakes," Deniaud said. "That put me second overall before the last stage, less than one second out of first place. I rode well the last stage to win by only seven-tenths of a second, which was really tight."
Deniaud's teammate Josh Carlson also turned in a strong performance in Loudenvielle, scoring a top-10 in the E-bike enduro race. The Australian rode his Trance X E+ Advanced to an eighth-place finish.
With his win, Deniaud moved up to sixth overall in the EDR World Cup rankings. With just one round remaining, he now turns his attention toward next week's finale in Les Gets, France.
Podium for Thirion
In the elite men's downhill race, held two days after the enduro events, Rémi Thirion returned to racing after missing the last round with a concussion he suffered at the European Championships.
"I wasn't sure I would be 100 percent when I came here, but after my first run of practice I knew I was feeling good and this track was for me," Thirion said. "It was incredible, with fresh new sections, steeps, and a lot of camber in the grass—the kind of stuff I like most for racing."
Racing on the new Glory Advanced, Thirion turned in his best performance since joining the team in 2021, finishing fifth to grab the podium spot.
"The Glory was perfect, I rode with the longest front-center position, high bottom bracket position and short chainstay with a mullet wheel setup," he said. "With all of the rain and fresh terrain, I rode full mud spike tires, the Maxxis Wetscream. I'm really happy to finally get a good result after a bad, unlucky start to the season."
With the podium, Thirion moved up to 24th in the overall rankings after missing the last round. He now turns his attention toward the final two World Cups in North America, including the finals at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, in early October.