After six epic days, the 2016 Trans-Provence finally hits the south coast of France after an action-packed final day.

With five full-on days of Mavic Trans-Provence already in the bag, racers set off from camp early on Friday into the full Southern heat for a day of fast-paced action and race-defining stage results.

Stage 21 took riders into the trees in central Sospel for a short, rapid blast back to town on buff singletrack – yet another change in terrain from the previous day. The second stage of the day (22) was another ‘best of the week’ – many racers commented on the perfect dirt and endless turns that dropped quickly through the steeply sloped forest. The next liaison then took riders south as they edged closer to the event objective – the sea. Stages 23 and 24 – the final moments of Mavic Trans-Provence 2016 – dropped off the side of the Maritime Alps as riders made the final descent through the busy streets of Menton to arrive at the coast for a well-earned beer and swim.

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The final day started in Sospel and finished by the sea, Yoann Barelli proving victorious on the final day.

The final day of racing would give two underdogs their chance to have a last say in the TP ’16 results. Yoann Barelli (FRA) and Katy Winton (GBR) put it all on the line, with 18- and 4-second wins respectively. Gustav Wildhaber (SUI) and Nico Lau (FRA) took the next two podium places in the men’s, likewise Emily Slaco (CAN) and Anita Gehrig (SUI) in the women’s.

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A last stage puncture cruelly robbed Ines Thoma of the overall win.

After Nico Lau’s crash on Day 4 and navigational error on 5, his fortune was to turn as the six-day event drew to a close. Lau already held a commanding lead on the overall, and a clean day of racing with no mistakes secured his fourth Mavic Trans-Provence victory in as many starts, with a margin of victory of nearly 40 seconds.

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A clean final day seen Nico Lau clinch the victory by nearly a minute.

Nico asserted his finesse as the world’s most decorated multi-day stage racer, but we shouldn’t forget the great ride of second-placed Francois Bailly-Maitre (FRA), whose two-minute buffer to third made him the only racer in the same league as Lau. Gustav Wildhaber rounded out the top three, a superb result for Lau’s Swiss teammate, with Yoann Barelli climbing to fourth and Marco Osborne (USA) suffering on the final day to finish fifth.

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Suns out guns out! Time for the beach.

The women’s category has been a weeklong battle of three, with sisters Anita and Carolin Gehrig both fighting a strong Ines Thoma (GER) for the overall. The three all took day wins during the week, but when the final times were added up it would be Anita’s consistent ride that would carry her to the prestigious Mavic Trans-Provence win.

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That’s a wrap, a mammoth effort from all involved. See you next year!

It has been a monumental adventure for every one of TP ‘16’s competitors. From high Alpine to bustling coastline, snow to sea, Mavic Trans-Provence 2016 has been one of the most memorable of the 8 events so far.

Here’s to many more journeys through the European mountains.

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