Day Two video coverage:
Trans-Savoie Day Three: Route:
Macot La Plagne, Champagny, Bozel.Total distance:
36kmTotal timed descent:
3,500mNumber of stages:
4Standings after Day Three:Men
1. Nico Lau - 2:22:23
2. François Billy-Maître - 2:25:20
3. Jamie Nicoll - 2:26:11Women:
1. Meggie Bichard - 3:07:10
2. Kerstin Kögler - 3:17:02
3. Monika Büchi - 3:24:18
Full results here
Day Three saw the Trans-Savoie move on from the Tarentaise valley and head into the wilderness of the La Plagne backcountry, beyond the Roche de Mio telecabine. In order to get the riders out on course in time to tackle the distance pedalled today, and also allow for the the brutal 850m climb to the refuge at the top of Mont Jovet, coaches drove riders from Séez to the lift station.
An early start stuffing down breakfast then loading bikes was followed by a chilled drive up the mountain. For those that grabbed some more sleep and rested on the bus, arriving at the gnarly terrain at the top of the Roche de Mio was a pretty good substitute for a strong cup of coffee as a wake up call. It's an intimidating place up there to be sitting on a pedal bike with just a half shell lid on some people's heads.
The liaison to the first stage headed across the aptly titled 'Brown Trouser Ridge'. It had awesome views and nothing too technical in the parts you could ride, but was a psyche-out knowing you would eat it in a big way if you fell off the edge by accident. A quick-ish 200m more grinding up to the saddle of the mountain followed, and from here the landscape opened up on the south side allowing the race to tip over the back of the Bellecôte into a completely new zone, and descend down to Champagny and eventually Bozel.
This first stage essentially started in a boulder field at close to 3,000m altitude, and had literally everything you could ever ride in its 1,500m of vertical. Those that fancied their chances basically bowled down the mountain looking for the path of least resistance until the trail formed itself out of the rocky carnage. Fast classic Alpine singletrack with amazing views was followed by some super-fast traversing on wide, flowy trails before ending on a very technical steep plummet down the side of a gorge. Most riders were pretty stoked at the end of this one.
Another lift from Champagny took racers up to a long liaison round the back of a huge valley to the start of the ‘Spider Pig’ stage. This was a steep contorted singletrack ribbon threading down woods in and out of deep green foliage and it’s hard to believe with all the bermed out turns it wasn’t originally built for mountain bikers.
The next part of the day was either a steady climb for someone like former XC racer François Billy-Maître (winner of two stages today
), or an hour and a half of slow pain for those less fit competitors climbing 850m on a steep rough fire road to the mountain refuge at almost 2,600m. Nash Masson here didn't seem to mind it too much.
The classic Mont Jovet descent starts by flowing at speed across a vast high Alpine landscape before tipping into steeper woods with superb banked turns and lumps as well as a smattering of small greasy roots to keep you honest, and at the bottom not one rider thought the climb wasn’t worth it, with many saying it was the best of the week so far.
The final stage treaded a fine line down a steeply cut ravine to the town of Bozel. Technical, root infested and with switchbacks so tight even the top pros where forced to dismount, it was the tricky ying to stage 3’s flowy, flattering yang. Down in the valley riders regrouped at one of the prettiest campsites of the week and despite just four stages today many riders weren’t arriving back until after 6.30pm.
Courcheval and Meribel tomorrow.