From the internet-deserts of southern France comes this report from the TransProvence. We’ve lumped two day’s coverage into one, so that we can get on with Day Five tomorrow!
Start: Dignes -Les Bains
Finish: Villars- Colmars
Riding distance 48.64km
Day three sees Trans- Provence riders have a slightly less arduous day than the epic that is day two. Regardless of that, it’s still three hard stages including a brutal bike-a-hike to start the day.
The start of day sees riders gain 500 vertical metres in less than four kilometres, starting with fire road and then a steep path cut in to the Mountain side,the hard breathing and carrying (and no doubt cursing) was rewarded with amazing views across Provence and in the distance the second special stage (Special stage9) of the day
Before any of that Trans-Provence competitors first had to negotiate Special stage 8 – A huge drop in elevation and in a classic Trans -Provence Style most types of technical riding thrown into one huge trail!
From the col an open section led through open loose rock singletrack and switchbacks before plunging in to leaf filled woodland similar to something you may find on a (dry ) day in the south of England.
The riders were then spat out in to open meadow land all to briefly before finding themselves in long a rock chute of singletrack that threw them down to the valley floor, after cresting one more updulation™ (Trans-Provencers who have been part of the event since the first year are used to Ash’s various ways of describing climbs without saying the word climb) the trail finally plummeted down to the timing belise and a chance to breathe.
After the feed station Special stage 9 was a combination of woodland and rock gardens – before a hard fire road climb that lead to the an open rock river bed through pine forest – fast and not as technical as most stages and the climb in the middle meant that the stage really suited fit riders not just good technical ones.
The final stage of day three was more of what any one that loves mountain biking would ask for. Fast on-sight flowing open sections through the top stage with a feeling of exposure, before pine forest loam land curled down to a riverside trail and the end of another hard day’s riding
As always today has been about great trails in beautiful country but day three also passes a major watershed and begins our journey in to the higher Maritime Alps, as can be seen by tomorrow’s start of the day with the amazing start of day four with 2000 metre drop from Col du Champs .
Top Ten Men Day three
1 25 WEIR Mark 00:07:58 00:11:30 00:07:22 00:26:50
2 26 CRUZ Ben 00:07:56 00:11:24 00:07:35 00:26:55
3 12 CLEMENTZ Jérôme 00:07:53 00:11:47 00:07:25 00:27:05
4 36 RYAN Matt 00:07:51 00:12:19 00:07:30 00:27:40
5 35 VOUILLOZ Nicolas 00:08:10 00:11:59 00:07:38 00:27:47
6 6 BAREL Fabien 00:07:56 00:12:37 00:07:35 00:28:08
7 34 HESTLER Andreas 00:08:56 00:13:03 00:08:03 00:30:02
8 30 SORRELL Rowan 00:08:13 00:14:02 00:08:31 00:30:46
9 20 RICHARDS James 00:08:42 00:14:05 00:08:11 00:30:58
10 56 MATHEWS Iain 00:09:17 00:13:16 00:08:28 00:31:01
Top Five Women
20 19 MOSELEY Tracy 00:09:08 00:16:14 00:08:48 00:34:10
23 23 MARTIN Anka 00:09:27 00:16:03 00:09:39 00:35:09
29 3 HOHERMUTH Ingrid 00:11:02 00:16:44 00:09:40 00:37:26
40 37 BOELEMA Kara 00:11:10 00:21:24 00:12:59 00:45:33
44 7 THOMSON Fiona 00:13:25 00:23:05 00:13:43 00:50:13
Overall postions after day three.
Top Ten Men
Place Dos Surname First Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Total Time
1 35 VOUILLOZ Nicolas 00:28: 00:30: 00:27: 01:26:
2 12 CLEMENTZ Jérôme 00:28: 00:30: 00:27: 01:26:
3 25 WEIR Mark 00:28: 00:30: 00:26: 01:26:
4 6 BAREL Fabien 00:30: 00:30: 00:28: 01:28:
5 36 RYAN Matt 00:29: 00:32: 00:27: 01:28:
6 26 CRUZ Ben 00:30: 00:31: 00:26: 01:28:
7 30 SORRELL Rowan 00:32: 00:31: 00:30: 01:35:
8 27 BEAUMONT Marc 00:30: 00:33: 00:32: 01:36:
9 32 JONES Steve 00:31: 00:34: 00:32: 01:38:
10 20 RICHARDS James 00:33: 00:34: 00:30: 01:39:
Top Five Women
19 19 MOSELEY Tracy 00:38: 00:36: 00:34: 01:48:
24 23 MARTIN Anka 00:39: 00:41: 00:35: 01:56:
28 3 HOHERMUT Ingrid 00:39: 00:44: 00:37: 02:01:
36 37 BOELEMA Kara 00:46: 00:49: 00: 45: 02:18:
42 7 THOMSON Fiona 00:57: 00:57: 00:50: 02:45:
And now on to Day Four!
Day four .
• start: Villars-Colmars (1180m)
• trailhead: Col des Champs (2080m)
• finish: Guillaumes (793m)
• riding distance: 41.49 km
• on-bike height gain: 965m
• on-bike height drop: 2434m
Many regular Trans-Provencers think that day four is the finest overall day of the weeks riding – starting with the huge decent from Col des Champs and including the unique ‘grey earth’ stage, if these two trails were all that you rode in a day, you’d consider it a fine day’s riding, but with two other exceptional trails included, it really is a special day in the big Mountains
Special stage 11 is Col Des Champs then. This is a real test of riding – individually each of the many sections would be challenging but taken together it takes a strong technical rider, who can also on-sight rock gardens and turn in to the tightest switchbacks whilst ignoring the ever-increasing exposure on either side of them, all of this of course is whilst the clock is ticking – it’s a fifteen minute descent for the fastest riders.
Next Special Stage 12. The liaison stage itself is something quite unique. It’s a slice of exposed rock that cuts its way across the side of a mountain with vertiginous 200 metre drops below you and an amazing viewing point down across the valley and to the stages ahead.
The stage itself continues initially in the same vein as the Liaison but with the risk to life removed a little if you fall off! More open rock face switchbacks lead to the lower pine forested trails and beautifully grippy sandy corners – with dust still hanging in the air from the rider in front.
From the feed station, a fun liaison stage took riders across the valley floor before the fire road climb to the start of the Grey Earth.
Special Stage 13 The Grey Earth is unique to this part of the world. What looks like a combination of grey cement dust mixed in to tarmac that has then rolled down a hill like lava, has then set into long flowing ridge lines of incredibly grippy and fast rolling trail. For the riders there’s a suggested line laid out for them but the opportunity to go “off-piste ” and choose a quicker line is there for those that want it..
The final stage of the day is reached by steep bike a hike to open meadowland – before a steep switchback loam ride propels riders back to the valley floor once more and the chance to recuperate for the next day.
We haven’t mentioned racing much other than results before today. Whilst the Trans-Provence is a race it’s also just as importantly for many people taking part in a chance to ride amazing trails and to be in this beautiful part of the world.
Today however we had our first injuries and they’ve been with the fast guys. Ben Cruz is out with either severely torn ligaments or a broken ankle – Steve Jones had a big crash and whilst Nico Vouilloz hasn’t hurt himself – he lost time after tearing off his rear mech.
For the people that are racing, tiredness is starting to show – seven days of racing is partly a war of attrition. Silly mistakes are having consequences that could either cost the race, the stage, or stop them from finishing the event itself.
Top ten Men overall after four days .
- Jerome Clementz 02:04:22
- Nico Vouilloz 02:05:25
- Mark Weir 02:05:42
- Fabien Barel 02:07:42
- Matt Ryan 02:10:23
- Marc Beaumont 02:17:08
- Rowan Sorell 02:18:55
- James Richards 02:24:12
- Steve Jones 02:25:14
- Andreas Hestler 02:28:29
Top five Women after four days
- Tracy Moseley 02:37:34
- Anka Martin 02:48:56
- Ingrid Hohermuth 02:58:01
- Kara Bolelema 03:23:51
- Fiona Thomson 03:59:31