Trans-Provence 2015 – Day 2: Barcelonnette to Villars-Colmars
Well after yesterday’s race report summary wandering off into the philosophical meaning of maps and landscape we now return to a more fact-based report. (In the writer’s defence, yesterday the sun was hot and the beer was cold).
For Day 2’s rally writing there was a little less sun and a little more caffeine. This combo has a marvellous affect on bringing you back to the here and now. Back to the job in hand. The task of relating to you just some of the essence of Trans-Provence.
DAY 2 /// BARCELONNETTE to VILLARS-COLMARS
- Distance: 44.5km
- D+: 1660m
- D-: 2716m
“Epic” is bandied about a lot about on the Mavic Trans-Provence, but we rarely boast about the enormous nature of some of our shuttles. Today, an unexpected deadline (hey, it’s France) to close our route of escape from the Ubaye Valley into the famous Verdon Valley turned our multi-wave shuttle service for competitors into its own kind of against-the-clock special stage! A race to get all of the riders to a col before the road was shut for road works. No rally-style driving was involved, just very precise and organised turning round of riders and shuttles, we assure you!
The Col in question is the Col d’Allos which tops out at 2,250 metres (or 7,382 ft in old money). There’s lots of high cols in the alps but few feel quite as exposed as this one during the approach. Yawning drops on your left with the minimal (tokenistic?) protection of tiny concrete parapets. While on your right, overhanging rock faces loom down on you. Eventually you do top out at the col, slightly relieved, excited and wishing you could have looked at more of the views. Curse those tiny parapets that made sure you keep your eyes on the road.
Cycle fact fans: the Tour de France has crossed this col 33 times in its history, so we were in good company. Unlike the TdF though our riders turn off the road to see what the Verdon valley has in store for them. Namely, four special stages with some big climbs and some amazing trails.
Special Stage 7 was fêted with the highest of high accolades: “being better than Donkey Darko” (a much-loved section of previous Trans-Provence years that inevitably ended up as riders’ bench mark of the best trail they’ve ever experienced).
The race for the top three spots has less than a minute in it. And if you keep an eye on the results you’ll start seeing all of the other micro battles between riders throughout the trip. These tussles will go back and forth over each other in the rankings in the next few days. It’s these peer rankings that contain the spirit of Trans-Provence just as much as the pro podiums.
What else can we tell you? The weather is amazing. The trails are dry. Tomorrow we see the riders head up to the Col Du Champs where the riding starts at 2100 metres before dropping into the iconic Grey Earth valley. Plus more new special stages tomorrow and more beautiful footage to watch.
Words: Trans-Provence PR Pictures: Sam Needham