Trans-Provence Day 5 & 6

Sorry for the delay in posting, but whilst these guys have been taking the long route to a bar in Monaco, we’ve been up in the Lakes inventing white water mountain biking. Pretty sure there are not 3 Champion winning British beers in the Monaco bar either ūüėČ Anyway, I digress. Day 5 presser…

Day 5 of Mavic¬ģ Trans-Provence showed in equal measure the spirit of cooperation and support that has always been the part of the spirit of Mavic¬ģ 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 another rider helping out another rider – Watching the riders 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¬ģ 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¬ģ Trans-Provence time penalties we’re 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 time penalised.

¬†Ash Smith, Mavic¬ģ Trans- Provence ‘s ¬†Race Directors official statement.

On the Mavic¬ģ 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¬ģ Trans-Provence staff sources regarding rider discussions,¬†decisions and actions, leads Mavic¬ģ 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 5, Mavic Trans-Provence video.

So the Cube Action Sports rider Nicholas Lau moved back into the lead once more. Check out Joe Barnes in 5th place so far, the boy is doing good! Can they keep it going into Day 6? Presser…

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¬ģ 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¬ģ

Mavic¬ģ Trans-Provence promises one thing – more descending than climbing and day six provides it in spades. With a height gain of 1430 meters but a height drop of 3358 meters today, from the bottom of the Second Special stage riders have a mid ride uplift to the Col de Turini at 1607 meters.

The third Special Stage of the day is flowing wooded singletrack with dropping leaves filling the trails and corners, today in a repeat of day 5, Mavic¬ģ Trans – Provence staff were watching for corner cutting in the woods and once again time penalties were given out for riders who broke the rules.

If the third Special Stage was about flow and wood and leaves – Special Stage 4 is all about rock, exposure, switchbacks with crenelated rock running in the wrong direction through the corners and all of this dumped on to an incredibly steep mountains side. Last year, Mark Weir reckoned it was “above my pay grade” so imagine how hard it is for mere mortals….

Tomorrow will see us hitting the coast via two new Special Stages and then the final trails looking down over Monaco.

Day 6, Mavic Trans-Provence video

So Nicolas Vouilloz takes the day in his back garden and Nicholas Lau keeps the overall heading into the final day down into Monaco. Day 7 tomorrow, the bar is surely now in site.

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