Barcelonnette hosts Camp Zero for the opening shakedown of Mavic Trans-Provence 2019. The sky is blue and the sun is out as riders from fifteen countries shuttle their way along the final leg of the journey to the start line.
The optional Day 0 prologue stage is a sinuous ribbon through some ancient, twisted pine here in the Ubaye Valley offering riders the opportunity to make sure their bikes and bodies are in full working order for the week ahead.
The Mediterranean sea beckons, but there will be a cool 308km of blind, timed trail exploration in between here and Menton in a week's time.Day 1
Dawn rises on the Col d'Allos as the first wave of riders open their accounts at Mavic Trans-Provence 2019. The rain and isolated claps of thunder of Day 0 are long gone as the shuttles climb through the thin inversion to top out at 2250m into a bright morning sun.
Four stages greet riders on Day 1, with the day taking in 1794m of ascent with almost double that number in descent as they make their way from the Ubaye Valley to the Verdon and the forests above Colmars. Those riders who have raced previous editions of Trans-Provence will no doubt find the opening liaison familiar, only to be following an altogether different route under a stifling Summer sun.
Day 1 isn't the fiercest in terms of climbing or out-and-out descending, but it was still enough to test even the best of the bunch as they learn to read a trail and find their speed. The heat was the real enemy as an initially very cool day turned out to be fiery enough as the day wore on.
The time sheet will show where riders stand after the opening 51km, but there's plenty more blind, time trail exploration to come where they can make good their Day 1 mistakes.Day 1 resultsDay 2
Few stage race day starts are as iconic as Col des Champs, now a legendary part of the Trans-Provence story. The col would see no racing today but would make the perfect start the day before riders tackled the short but sharp Day 2.
A real mix of riding greeted the riders on Day 2 as they skirted the Mercantour National Park and entered the Maritime Alps. Everything from high Grey Earth, flat-out woods and some steeper trails made it a smorgasbord of what Trans-Provence has become known and loved for over the years.
Day 2 really showcased the quintessence of Trans-Provence, with four stages of on-sight woodland adventure racing. An ominous forecast failed to materialise until late in the day as riders made their way from stage 7 to 8. The Dark Cloud Crew rolled into Guillaumes at the tail end of a record late finish. They and the last few on-mountain staff, were caught out as the heavens opened delivering a short, late afternoon burst of hail and rain in equal measure.Day 2 resultsDay 3
Day 3 started in complete contrast to the one that preceded it, as riders were met by clear blue skies in Valberg for another four stages of trail discovery skirting the Mercantour National Park.
Stage 9, the first of the day, would be the ultimate test of whether riders had shrugged off the two previous days' efforts as they started with a warp speed run down the ridge above Beuil before the first of two chairlifts of the day to Stage 10. What followed was proof positive that Trans-Provence is not all about the racing, as riders traversed their way in between the 2000m+ peaks high above the Gorge du Cians on the liaison to Stage 11.
Day 3 packed a big punch into one of the shorter days of the Trans-Provence week. Riders would enjoy the lowest amount of climbing of the 6 days, while still racking up some serious descending in classic Trans-Provence country. The day would culminate in some riders getting caught in the late afternoon's brief rain storms that accompany the occasional rumble of thunder.
It would be tight at the top today, with only three seconds separating the top 2 Pro Men on the day's four stages and only 12 in the General Classification. Tracy Moseley has amassed over a 3 minute gap overall on second place Tanja Naber, with today having a strong showing from Emily Slaco in the stages.Day 3 resultsCurrent Standings