Mavic Trans-Provence Day 7: Breaking the spell in Sospel

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Day 7 traditionally has that feeling of the last day of term. Don’t mistake us, Mavic Trans-Provence is an adventure of a lifetime, but for most people 7 days is enough racing. We tend to focus on the race and the videos do to, but they can’t tell the full story of just how worn out people are by the last day.

Geoff Kabush tries to get ahead of the gathering storm.

Normally, then, the last day is relatively easy after what’s gone before it. We say relatively easy, it’s still 30km of riding and nearly 900 metres of climbing, with 4 Special Stages before we reach the coast. The first riders are normally above Monaco before midday and everyone is by the beach by 2pm drinking a beer and dive bombing each other in the sea.

That would be a normal final day at Mavic Trans-Provence. But that wasn’t this year.

At the last minute, authorities in Monaco decided that we couldn’t meet at the beach as we have done in previous years, with threats of fines and even prison for the race director if we decided to ignore the decree.

Then we had storms. Massive but mercifully brief storms turned dusty, rocky trails into limestone man-traps while forked lightning struck the ground around us. Several members of the mountain staff and media team felt and saw lightning strike fences next to them. Ed Oxley claimed he felt it pass through him, but he’s a man with a huge beard so who knows…

Maybe it was relaxing on the last day, maybe it was the weather, or the little slippery trails, but somewhere on the first Special Stage of the day we had our first serious accident of the week. Apart from a few stitches up until day 7 we’d had a remarkably incident free event this year. Sven Martin went down, broke his arm and was helicoptered off the mountain. Healing vibes, Sven!

Unsurprisingly this changed the dynamics of the day. Incredible respect to Anka Martin (Sven’s wife) who still finished the day, but people were clearly shocked, the reminder so late in the week that at any point a misplaced wheel or a lapse in concentration can end your race and maybe far worse.

Mavic Trans-Provence day 7

Naturally a fair number of riders waited to make sure Sven got off the mountain and this further slowed down the day. It also meant that many riders were still riding when we were hit by another large storm.

By the fourth Special Stage we had riders who had seen a bad injury, been out for longer than they thought they were going to be and also been hit by storms twice. That all probably contributed to the three-person crash only a couple of hundred metres from the end of the final Special Stage. Jon Cancellier twisted his ankle so hard that he needed to be carried off the mountain and then to hospital to check it wasn’t broken (it isn’t).

Finally, though, riders gradually appeared at the final camp of the week, some a little worse for wear from more than the beers they’d had at the beach, some just looking shell shocked from the week gone by and the accidents of the final day.

Another year is over, most of us are now home, whether you’re a racer or part of the team the make sure the event works behind the scenes, the next few days always seem a little unreal. After spending seven days with new friends or being re-acquainted with old ones travelling day by day across a country, suddenly being back indoors and fixed in a single place feels as strange as the Mavic Trans-Provence is hard. We’re sure some are wondering about coming back to race again next year.

We’d like to thank all of you who’ve followed the event this year, the support of our sponsors and everyone that has run our videos. If you’ve watched it and reckon you could do it why not apply for the race next year? If you want to ride the route but don’t fancy racing you can always join the team for one of the guided tours. Either way don’t just watch, come and join us.

Until next year!

The Mavic Trans-Provence team.

Riders shelter from the storm.

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