So today the shock horror news is … we have had cable car uplift for the first time at Mavic® Trans-Provence 2013.
Before you either smash your internet communication device in disgust that we’ve “sold out”, or whoop that we’ve finally caught up with the rest of the world; apart from a bit of uplift being replaced by a cable car over a van, today was everything that we’ve known to come and love about Mavic® Trans-Provence. With perhaps one of the longest, most technical, all natural, on sight trails that we’ve had since the inaugural event in 2009.
Before we carry on with todays journey, we should mention the inevitable that comes from pushing hard on trails: Injuries. Firstly all at Mavic® Trans-Provence wish Vadim Savelyev a speedy recovery, who did a great job of landing on his head today during one of the bike park Special Stages and was more than a little concussed, and to Fay Cunningham who’s broken her hand and is out for the rest of the race.
Special mention must also go to Mark Weir, who has also broken his hand, but has decided to carry because “it only really hurts on the downhill” … Ok.
The first half of today made use of two of last year’s Special Stages, one as a timed Stage and the second the stunning ravine that ends on a balcony trail high above the medieval town on Roubion.
From Roubion riders made their way to the ski lifts, and to two Special Stages in the Roubion bike park built around the winter ski resort. Mavic® Trans-Provence has chosen to use the more natural feeling trails, with only the bottom section of the third Special Stage of today using some of the bike parks step-downs and wooden booters…
After a third ride up, the lift riders traversed across the valley crossing high mountain passes; including incredibly fast “pick it and stick it”, multi option sheep track at warp speed that would be dangerous if it was timed on a Special Stage, and short tech climbs before they reached the final Special (Special Stage 16) of the day.
It’s hard to describe in any sensible way, the length and the arduousness of the trail – losing over 1000m vertical, it involved being able to interpret the trail in front of you quickly, being able to understand route directions at break neck speeds, combined with some kind of telepathy to understand which way the trail was about to turn when hitting the ancient unused olive terraces that punctuate the top part of the trail.
It seems that not many of riders have the sixth sense, judging by the amount of them that were seen catapulting over various ancient walls and bushes.
Once past all that is ancient, the trail threw riders down increasingly steepening switchbacks until their brakes or upper body gave out; followed by combinations of wafer thin highly exposed singletrack or short bursts of very steep climbs, before finally finishing on a balustrade trail high above a river.
How big and hard is it? Jerome Clementz took 18.31 to finish the stage, with riders like Adam Craig taking 22 minutes, and he’s no slouch.
A huge day tomorrow with two new stages and only only 20 seconds between the top two riders…
Text & Photos: Mavic® Trans-Provence 2013