Jamie Nicoll and Chris Johnston still sit in 2nd and 3rd behind Nico Lau in the Trans Provence, the trio battling out the stages on Stage 4. Anka Martin is shadowing Tracy Moseley and Ali Quinn holds 2nd in M40.
DAY 4 /// VALBERG - VALDEBLORE
Distance: 33.2km D+: 867m D-: 2902m
First let's update you on the Shuttle Rally™ (always trademark your inventions). It has become as much a war of attrition on drivers and vehicles as the actual race itself. There’s been a lot of hot engine smells today and some of the tightest, steepest mountain passes that we’ve ever driven in the event, you only normally hear “the race organiser is mental” either at the end of 10 hike-a-bike false summits that you’ve traversed to get to a Special Stage, not at the top of col access road as drivers stretch out their tense shoulders.
The drive up to Col de la Sinne is definitely a new “next level” drive. Especially if you have a trailer on the back! The guys that drive for Coolbus really are the van uplift equivalent of the SAS (well, the Foreign Legion seeing as we're in France). In a van with a trailer loaded with about £50,000 worth of bikes, no roads are deemed un-passable”.
Back to the actual bike riding then.
The screw has definitely been let off today in terms of distance and climbing. A mere 867 metres of climbing and a tiny 33 km of riding but the riders still get 2902 metres of descending. (This is all just to soften them up for tomorrow's monster day - but more on that later). The first three stages today were completely new to the Mavic Trans-Provence 2015 this year. They started high up at the resort town of Valberg (thanks for having us Valberg!) the route took riders through some of the most remote and wild parts of the Southern Alps.
Red Earth is the next big thing in trails okay? Variously called "plates", "flakes" and "gravel" by riders just to make this writer's task harder, it definitely makes for the unexpected, hard to see, hard to judge drop offs. Red Earth is crazy looking, other-worldly terrain. Wild, isolated country with valleys dropping the riders down onto road running through the incredible 'gorges superieures du cians'.
After the aforementioned “next level” shuttle to the Col De La Sinne, racers rode the Abeliera which is a permutation of last year's final Special Stage 16. Long, hard, sustained tech with confusing sections to on-sight. The corners always seem to fall the wrong way as you crest over and into them. How did the riders find it? Check the videos for more over-excited whooping, post ride beers and some very fine riding.
Tomorrow is a whopper! More climbs and more descent than other day of the week. Finally riders get to see the sea for the first time this year.
The Mavic Trans-Provence Crew