Photo Epic: The Final Cut - Trans-Provence 2019

Jul 3, 2019
by MavicTransProvence  

A decade after Trans-Provence brought blind, timed trail exploration to the World, Ash and Melissa called time on the race that had stayed true to its values throughout and inspired a host of other similar events that sought to capture the quintessence of the race.

Mavic Trans-Provence 2019 saw riders tackling 22.5 brand new stages of the 24. Ash had crafted almost the full compliment of the 308km of trails for this event. A mammoth feat of map-studying and hard graft.

Col des Champs has become an icon of Trans-Provence. Dawn raids here have become part of the Trans-Provence journey.

Col d’Allos as the sun makes its way above the massive peaks to the east. The thin inversion made the 5am wake-up call more than worth it. This is what Trans-Provence is all about.

Riders would tackle 900m of descending together before they had even raced the clock from this infamous Trans-Provence start point. With fresh trail and the full day ahead, this is what Trans-Provence is all about.

Massive views become pretty normal in this part of the World during Trans-Provence week. Even with a stop to soak it all in, you’ll still be glad of your bed once you roll into camp.

People make Trans-Provence. Tom Hill has raced, signed, and worked as mountain staff at this event. The race simply wouldn’t exist without people like Tom. Up before dawn and back only after the last riders had rolled into camp, the mountain staff put the shift in day in, day out.

This week was all about bikes and blue skies.

Gareth Brewin would rock up on his Geometron and quietly chip his way into the top 15 through the week. Always super stylish and looking like he’s having fun. It must have been quite the difference from driving World Cup race trucks and welding pipes on a Land Rover.

2019 would see the course cross the border into Italy and the former World War One front line. Fort Centrale stands as a solemn reminder of the fighting from over a century ago, and made a serious impression on riders as they traverse the battlefront to the opening stage of the day.

It was at a Trans-Provence bike wash that Chris Ball decided that enduro had a very bright future, and the EWS director would be back for the final Trans-Provence, seen here giving it some serious licks towards the sharp end of the AM category.

How many races do you know that pass jet fighters? In the small village of St Dalmas lies a Fouga CM.170 Magister, donated to the village by the AeroNavale to remember a fallen pilot who grew up there.

Don’t look right… This was the freshest trail of the bunch and the old school trail conditions suited the likes of Peaty and Moseley to a T. Both would put in a serious show of bike-handling on Day 5 to extend their respective leads.

Time to wheeze your lungs back to normality in the cool darkness of the stage finish. The fiery heat of the 2019 event would see riders and staff alike seeking shade and water wherever they could find it.

Wolfgang Eyesholdt was one of the many super fast Germans to make the trek to southern France for the final Trans-Provence and quietly set about rallying his Scott into the top 10 in the Pro category. Pinned.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
Katy Winton would be racing her Dad and having the time of her life at Trans-Provence. Yes she might have come fourth, but Trans-Provence was all about the adventure as she eases her way back into racing while she recovers from concussion.

Sapaudia Signal and Cosmique on tap to ease yourself into the evening.

The ultimate leveller. Everyone is riding at Trans-Provence for the love of bikes and you can cut about and share stories with the odd World Champion.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
Blind trail exploration has its risks, and there’d be very few fresh elbows by the end of the week.

While Katy Winton might not have been racing, she certainly wasn’t hanging about either. Is there anything better than pressure-free adventure?

Breil-Sur-Roya would be the only camp where riders wouldn’t have to pack up the morning they headed out. That meant cooling off with beer in hand in the frosty waters of the Roya itself.

Toby Pantling would be one quarter of the Trans-Provence mountain staff and rolled into Breil looking like Father Christmas at the end of Day 4.

Beer and battle scars.

The open hills of the Hautes-Provence were awash with colour as all manner of flowers compete for the attention of the local invertebrates.

As the race approached the coast, the loam and dirt was gradually replaced by cold, hard limestone and offered a very different prospect both in grip and damage to body and bike should you take an excursion into the undergrowth.

Chris Johnston came all the way from Canada and was battling for the top 5 all week. He’d finish the week one place ahead of a certain Steve Peat.

Two very different worlds in one photo. The glitz and glamour of the French Riviera on a sunny Saturday afternoon, and a rider galloping through the dust, happy but beaten and bruised after a week of massive days followed by camp life.

Emily Slaco would slowly build her speed through the week and bag herself a third spot behind Tanja Naber and Tracy Moseley. She was clearly loving every minute of Trans-Provence.

James Richards followed the Trans-Provence motorcade in the camper with the wee man in tow all week.

More bike races should finish at the beach.

After the beep, you’ve no idea what’s coming. Hold on tight, remember to breathe and be ready for anything.

Out of the darkness and into the light. Just pray the transition isn’t too harsh and you don’t end up truly racing blind.

If you can deal with the exposure and concentrate fully on the trail ahead, you’d be onto a winner. Just don’t go clipping a pedal.

Andy Bates was the ringleader of the shuttle drivers and had a beast of a beard to boot. He’d keep the shuttles running like clockwork all week.

This ancient bathing spot just outside the walled town of Villars-Colmars was to be the saviour of many a wilting racer as the temperature pushed towards the thirties.

Riders would cross many a stream bed during the course of the week, but this would be one of the few to have any liquid sunshine flowing towards the sea.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
The thousand yard stare that comes at the end of massive days in the mountains and a few too many early starts. Coffee would be sought wherever possible to keep the brain ticking.

I think the sausages might be ready guys…

Trans-Provence has a very good way of making you feel small amongst giants. A tiny ribbon helps you navigate through this vast landscape.

Old droving and farming tracks have existed here for centuries. Trans-Provence has brought countless forgotten trails, reclaimed by the elements into our collective conscious.

Mountain staff making sure everyone is accounted for. Sounds easy enough, but not when riders are riding straight at you.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
Despite having never raced Trans-Provence before, Steve Peat snatched the M40 lead early on despite some incidents and wouldn’t relinquish it all week.

The forests were putting on a pretty good show of colour to compete with the open hills above.

As the race navigated its way through countless farms and villages, there would be plenty of four-legged friends to make en route too.

Play it safe or roll the dice? Finding the edge was a tricky task that required recalibration as the conditions, dirt and brain function changed through the week.

Marco Osborne won Mavic Trans-Provence in 2017 and was back to compete for the win again. Needless to say he’d be more than happy at the sharp end all week.

Day Zero petanque battles preceded those on track.

There are certainly worse places for a yoga session. The mats were rolled up minutes before the first of two storms of the week rolled into Barcelonnette.

Camp life. A tent would be home for the week for riders and staff alike. Home would be in a different place every night and making it work for you would be a massive part of enjoying everything else the week had to offer.

A chain of riders, like a column of ants, make their way off the Col des Champs as the early morning sun casts long shadows across the high pasture.

The #TPMediaSquid gang couldn’t resist a good rock booter before the riders were shuttled to the top of the Col des Champs.

Martyn Brookes would show his pace in the AM category early on and stay in the top three all week.

Marco Osborne showed his pace early on, and despite relinquishing the lead to Romain Paulhan mid-week, he’d be more than up for the challenge of reclaiming it.

Grey Earth has become a staple of Trans-Provence and is one of the most unique landscapes you can ride a bike through.

Peter Ostroski can ride a bike. Easily the most stylish rider on the hill, the Canadian would be trying to close the gap to Osborne and Paulhan all week.

With the dirt as dry as it was, keeping the back wheel in check became a real battle. If you could keep the slide under control though, what does it matter?

Red Earth is another one of the superlative landscapes Trans-Provence is known for and yet another place where you feel humbled by the size of the landscape all around you.

Scythe your way though yet more ancient ruins of agriculture long since gone on the way to the sea.

Romain Paulhan on his way to another top 2 stage finish.

Clouds offered shade, an indication of what the weather was going to do and where that weather was coming from. Mountain weather can change quickly, and you’d need to be able to read what the white stuff was doing to keep yourself out of trouble.

Yes it might be a long, tiring week, but bike riding should be fun and there was plenty of scope for improvisation on the liaison stages.

How good was that?

Tracy might have won the week, but lost the race to get the bubbly open.

“It’s in my eyes!” Marco Osborne. Quick on a bike but slower than the rest of the podium with the champagne.

Col d’Allos long before the racers have made their way to the summit. There’s definitely bonuses to being a squid.

Early morning stunts in the early morning sun.

Trails varied from fast and flowy to slow and ludicrously steep. This was the latter.

Old Peatydog scything his way through the boulders like it was another afternoon lap in Wharncliffe.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
You obviously need a fly-fishing rod for a stage race. There’d be plenty of trout chat between Osborne, Philpott and Pantling through the week.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
What’s better than racing bikes? Riding and racing bikes with family. While Tracy was racing, James and Toby would be having the road trip of a lifetime in the camper.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
Papa Winton might have got the ball rolling by dragging Katy out on ridiculous rides as a youth, but it was role reversal at Trans-Provence as Katy set the pace for her Dad to try and match.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
Col des Champs had a unique blend of open pasture littered with chunky lumps of limestone ready to catch out anyone not paying full attention.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
Tiny rider, massive mountains. One of the many amazing constants of Trans-Provence.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
Black gold and some seriously fast dudes. The fuel for keeping that brain sharp through the week.

You weren’t there man…

Steve Peat on his way to further extending his lead in M40 and bothering the top 5 in Pro at the same time. Pinned.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
When the sun wasn’t burning riders to a crisp, hail signified the imminent arrival of some slightly more dangerous weather.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
Gazzy B directing the Geometron through one of the countless switchbacks that are a legendary part of Trans-Provence.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
Adam Craig is a veteran of Trans-Provence and it was great to have him back for the final edition of Trans-Provence.

 during the 2019 Mavic Transprovence the original alpine MTB rally.
The inimitable Smaildog getting biblical at camp in Valdeblore.

Anka Martin might have missed the racing for the first time in a long time, but showed up on Day 6 to catch the party. Hugs all round.

Last stage of the last day of the last Trans-Provence. Throw some high fives, give everyone a hug and throw the shades on so nobody can see you trying to look cool while the emotions start to take over.

These two were trading places and keeping each other honest all week. Romain Paulhan would take the final day win by a mere three seconds, but Marco Osborne had a massive Day 5 to be out front by a solid margin going into the final day.

Under an ezy-up on the promenade in Menton, everyone wanted to know where they’d stacked up after 308km of bicycle riding.

That’s a wrap folks. I’m not crying… You’re crying…

From humble beginnings in 2009, Trans-Provence became a standard-setter for those that would follow. Trans-Provence has stayed true to its roots ever since, with trail exploration at its beating heart.

People are truly what make this event tick. Whether it be rider, medic, mountain staff, kitchen staff, timing, shuttle drivers, masseuses, media team and sponsors, we are indebted to them all for the simply unique experience that is Trans-Provence.

We have to say thanks to everyone who has a part in the Trans-Provence journey over the years.

Regions in Article


  • + 14
 Probably the best photo epic from the best race out there!
  • + 6
 Cheers for rocking the Downtime Podcast t-shirt Papa Winton!!
  • + 5
 So many great shots! That pan of Katy Winton is $$$$!
  • + 4
 Those photos are absolutely incredible. The drone shot looking straight down is a real photo-of-the-year contender IMHO.
  • + 2
 That Grey Earth shot has to be a contender for photo of the year! So many great shots in there. Have to add Provence to the bucket list destinations.
  • + 3
 Amazing photos. Thank you!
  • + 1
 unreal photo recap, lots of memories coming back of my 2017 TP experience, wish I could've been there for this too! thanks for a great event Ash, Melissa, and team!
  • + 1
 Incredible. So jealous I couldn't join one of these over the years. 4 weeks vacation a year is not enough.
  • + 1
 Great photos!
Any orthodontists out there notice Emily Slaco's aligners?
  • + 1
 Tmo & James such cool parents
  • + 1
 Awesome shots from the most awesome trails, ever....
  • + 2
 Thanks for those photos!
  • + 1
 Hell yea Randy!
  • + 1
 Kipp Kipperson!

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