The action from the South of France has been gaining pace despite tired riders, long days and tough terrain. Over the past three days, the top ten has been full of names moving up and down, the tricky issue of course cutting has arisen and been dealt with, a serious mileage of trail (and baguette) has been covered and now the end is within sight. Here’s a compilation of the action…
Guest editor “slightly addled” Seb Kemp…..
“Wednesdayʼs ride through the Maritime Alps was a short one, relatively speaking. A touch under 30km long, 2354 metres of descending and a total accumulated baguette consumption of 135 metres.
Each day 120 baguettes are fresh baked and delivered to the campsite kitchen, opened up into hearty sandwiches and sliced for evening dipping. We have estimated that each rider eats at least a length of baguette each day. The loafage is just part of what keeps the Trans-Provence riders and staff going. Today there was also the 20 kilogram of beef, 10 litres of dark beer (donʼt judge, it was for the beef and beer stew) and two boxes of wine (the spirit needs fueling too).
The other form of sustenance today was the buffet of trails that we sampled. From wet and wild loamy Ubac to steep and technical Rochers De Bramus and even the lunar landscape of the infamous ʻGrey Earthʼ stage, the riding couldnʼt really be any more varied than it has been. And this was just one day. With three more to come and Monte Carlo still feeling like a faraway land I feel like we may be distended from trail consumption by then.”
Well, there we are then!
If you’re here to follow the race and the top riders – it’s all change at the top !
A lot of people thought a that a minute lead would be hard to make up, maybe it was an unassailable lead, but Jerome showed what a pro he is yesterday.
There’s still three days left to race before we finish at Monaco – Last year their was less than a minute between Nico and Jerome last year, who knows what todays racing might bring.
Day 5 of Mavic® Trans-Provence showed in equal measure the spirit of cooperation and support that has always been the part of the spirit of Mavic® Trans – Provence, but also the transition of the event, the sport, and the concept of multi day enduro style racing. From a mostly amateur affair to a to a recognised discipline in its own right, and with it the need for more stringent rules and the application of penalties for those that break them.
Day 5 itself is a very physical day with some of the hardest pedalling, Special Stages of the week and still really technical. If you’re not already spent after four days of riding and racing the days Special Stages are punctuated by big asphalt climbs over two Cols.
So lets talk about the spirit of the event then, and what makes it so special. Yesterday saw Fabien Barel happily lend his spare Mondraker to one of our amateur racers to ride after he broke his own bike. No fuss, no drama, just a rider helping out another rider – Watching the rider’s face as he was handed Fabien’s nearly brand new Mondraker was a priceless moment.
More of the spirit of camaraderie was seen at the top of the second Col, and the start of Special Stage 3. Mixed groups of riders clean the last of the climb, maybe led out by a pro downhiller with a XC World Cup racer in tow, the most unlikely grouping of riders imaginable taking turns to slug it out in front. Taking time to catch their breath, sitting along the edge of the start of third Special Stage to cheer each other on through the first few switch backs.
Imagine dropping in to a section and being whooped and whistled for your efforts by Mark Weir, Fabien Barel, Nico Vouilloz, Nicolas Lau, Matti Lehikoinen, Anne-Caroline Chausson and Adam Craig to name but a few and you’re just a regular rider who’s out for the week to take part. Where else are you going to being cheered on by some of the fastest riders in the world? All of this happens, and it only happens at Mavic® Trans- Provence!
Those of you that have been following the event will also be aware that yesterday for the first time in the history of Mavic® Trans-Provence time penalties were given out for cutting corners on sections. This year, perhaps reflecting the way the event has changed, rules have been added regarding cutting corners through switchbacks , as much as anything to protect the trails that we’re privileged to be able to use, and secondly to keep competition fair. Whilst we cannot police every corner if riders are openly cutting corners in front of riders they will be – and were – penalised.
Ash Smith, Mavic® Trans- Provence ‘s Race Directors official statement.
On the Mavic® Trans-Provence 2012 Day 5 (Thursday 27/09/2012) approximately 15 riders were accused of, and subsequently admitted to, “cutting the course” at the start of Special Stage 17.
However, the complex set of circumstances of which the stage start situation was comprised and the lack of information from Mavic® Trans-Provence staff sources regarding rider discussions, decisions and actions, leads Mavic® Trans-Provence race director to believe that the standard 3-minute course cut penalty cannot not be applied. Nevertheless, due to the fact that most riders did ride the corner in question correctly, a penalty reflecting the time gained by the offending riders was applied. The penalty given was 30 seconds.
Day 6 then is the beginning of the end – it’s a big day still, but you can look back over the last five days and the country covered, and look forward to the final pull to the coast.
Don’t think though that you can relax though, far from it. No uplift this morning, instead a huge pedal and then carry, leads you on to a col and one of the most beautiful liaison stages of the event. Across high mountain tops looking down in to the valleys 2000 meters below, you can see autumns approach through the hills in yellows and browns in waves of colour through the trees, Mavic® Trans – Provence is a journey as well as a race.
The first Special Stages of the day are enormous! Physically demanding sections in big terrain, if you’re not used to real mountain racing the enormity of the country around you can be as intimidating as the trail in front of you.
The bottom of the second Special Stage of the day drops you into the small town of Lantosque, and the daily feed station and technical support vehicles from Fox and Mavic®