Trans-Provence 2015 - Day 4

June 24 — 2015 | Provence, France

It was a monster day in Provence, France! Chris Johnston finished second on the day and held onto third place in the pro race, while Dylan Wolsky slipped a spot, to 7th, but just by a handful of seconds. Factory Man Scott Chapin continues to chase Antti Laiho in the amateur race, and today shaved about 20 seconds off the gap between them, holding steady in second place by about 45 seconds. Gary Perkin sent over some awesome photos, along with a great report. Scroll on for Gary's photos and description of today's stage!

We started the day on a stage unlike any we’ve seen before—SP13 aka Mars aka Red Earth. And, while it may share similarities with the famous Grey Earth, it's a completely different beast. Navigation, or lack thereof for some folks, was the key to this one. It was a crazy mish-mash of features that somehow formed a trail. Riders got sucked into dead ends, hucks to flat, and misleading ledges and drops that had to be jumped off the bike or backtracked to get back to the course.


SP14 was back to loose switchback mayhem in true TP style, but with added red earth flair. And SP15 ran straight off SP14 with loose red earth turns on the edge of exposure-filled voids ready to suck you in at a moment's notice. The liaison down from SP15 to lunch was probably more exposed than the actual stage and riders had to deal with about 3 kilometres of loose, off camber, exposed trails all the way to some of the loosest, chundery switchbacks we’ve seen yet. Well, until SP16 that is.


SP16 is the big one—Abeliera or Hobson’s Choice —named after Juliana ambassador Julia Hobson, who found and tested the trail a few years ago. The trail has had various start levels making the special stage anything from 1000+m to about 845m of vertical descent, but today’s was a bit shorter due to a timing balise being placed further down the trail than anyone expected. All the racers gathered about 150m down what they thought was the special, only to find no balise. So they got hold of Ash Smith (TP race organizer) and a new start was setup.


Riders went off in order of overall ranking down quite possibly one of the most exhilarating trails I have ever ridden. It's also one of the hardest trails I have ever ridden. But today, on my third attempt down the monster, and after taking my photos near the top, I packed all my camera gear, gathered my thoughts, took a deep breath and rode it better than I have ever done. My riding wasn’t pretty in places, with the September loam being replaced by early summer chunder, and the steeps being filled with what looked like river rocks. But make it to the bottom I did with just one off. I’m stoked. And so are the others who took on this beast of a stage and survived to earn themselves a beer or three at the local bar at the bottom.


So now with tired legs and bodies aching from descending, hike-a-biking, and liaising across Provence, we are over the hump on humpday and ever so much closer to the Med. But tomorrow is another big day with Ash Smith merging two big stages of Lantosque into one, and three new stages awaiting riders.

Good times with good people!


MAVIC® TRANS-PROVENCE 2015 /// DAY 4 from Trans-Provence on Vimeo.

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