Catch all the action from days four and five as the 2016 Trans-Provence as the riders edge closer to the coast:

Trans-Provence Day 4: Red Wilderness Truckin’

Day 4 of Mavic Trans-Provence 2016 was a short, sharp blast (by TP standards!) for riders as they dropped huge elevation from camp in Valberg, the first three stages and liaisons plummeting 1,400m before a shuttle and climb back up to 1,600m elevation.

From here, in the time it takes to say ‘skids are for grown kids,’ the course then plunged 1,000m via loose, loamy and at times exposed trail to arrive at the bar – a firm staple of TP days – in time for a late lunch of beer and ice cream (proper mountain biker nutrition).

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The red rocks provided a surreal setting for day four.

Mulling over the somewhat raucous morning – the ride ended several hours earlier than the previous day – most riders were surprised how tired they were. USA’s Marco Osborne (WTB/Cannondale) put it down to the extreme concentration levels in the long, rock-concealing grasses; Switzerland’s Ludo May (Canyon Factory Enduro Team) decided it was the heavy braking on the steeper gradients; UK’s Bry Watt (Booze Cruise) put it down to straight fear (exposure is an element of any TP race).

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Francois cut well into Nico Lau’s lead, making for a tense end to the race.

With the loose ground conditions and high consequences, anyone would think the pros might have ridden well within their limits. The results sheet shows otherwise though – the first five were within 25 seconds over more than 23 minutes of timed stages.

Overall race leader Nico Lau (Cube Action Team) did suffer today, however. The French rider took a spill on Stage 15 (the third special of the day) and lost vital seconds in his assault on the race overall. Francois Bailly-Maitre pounced on this opportunity and took the day’s win, in doing so cutting his overall deficit to Lau to 18 seconds. The two Frenchmen are at heads as we move into the last two days of 2016 TP racing.

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Whilst things are hotting up in the womens, the top 3 separated by 14 seconds!

Having suffered mechanicals in the first days of racing, the UK’s Mark Scott (Santa Cruz x SRAM) found his form on Day 4, finishing the day a joint 2nd with France’s Yoann Barelli (Giant Factory Off-Road). Matti Lehikoinen (Nukeproof/Mavic) took a stage win on 15 and 4th on the day, with Marco Osborne rounding out the top five.

The battle in the women’s category continues among Ines Thoma and Carolin and Anita Gehrig, with Anita taking the Day 4 win, Carolin 2nd and Ines 3rd. The overall is seriously hotting up – just 14 seconds separate Ines, Carolin and Anita, in that order.

Day 5 of racing is the BIG one – over 65km with an enormous 4,300m of descending as the TP tour moves from Valdeblore to Sospel.

Trans-Provence Day 5 Report: Valley Hopping

Day 5 of Mavic Trans-Provence 2016 set off bright and early from Valdeblore in a bid to make it over 65km to the final mountain camp of the event in Sospel.

The day’s stages took in a range of terrain from super tight switchbacks up high to wide-open speed nearing the end. The surroundings were just as varied too – from vibrant forest early in the day to near desert later. It truly was a day that epitomised the spirit of TP racing. Those 4,300m of descending won’t be forgotten soon.

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Nico Lau retains his lead out front in the overall by winning the day.

Having tightened up at the top in the overall standings after Day 4, reigning TP Champ Nico Lau seriously stepped on the gas on Day 5. Lau’s crash the day before clearly did not phase the Frenchman as he put the hammer down to take three of four stage wins. A navigational error on Stage 18 looked to put his lead in jeopardy once again, but it seems he built such a buffer over the other three stages that he needn’t have worried. Lau won Day 5 by a full 20 seconds.

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Another day, another different setting!

Nico continues to lead the overall from Day 5’s runner up Francois Bailly-Maitre; his dominant riding opening the gap to over 30 seconds. Bailly-Maitre is going to have to work hard to close down on Lau on the final four shorter stages. Marco Osborne remained consistent to take third on the day and the same position in the overall, with Gustav Wildhaber and Greg Callaghan rounding out the day’s top five.

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Ines Thoma was on the gas and stamped her authority on the overall.

As with the men’s racing, Ines Thoma also took the opportunity to stamp authority over the race, winning Day 5 by 23 seconds to second-placed Anita Gehrig. Katy Winton upped her game having ‘learnt to ride switchbacks’ during her week with TP, and rounded out the top three. Ines’ lead over Gehrig sits at an impressive 37 seconds – although that is over a combined time of nearly three hours of stage racing this week!

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The battle of the Gehrig sisters, who will come out on top?

The sixth and final day of 2016 TP racing heads out of the mountains and to the shores of the Mediterranean, with four stages raced over 42km and nearly 3,000m of descending.

Missed any of the action from the previous days?

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Words: Trans-Provence Photos: Duncan Philpott / Sven Martin / Sam Needham