Ten-time downhill world champion Nico Vouilloz ended the first day’s racing at Trans-Provence with a 29-second advantage over Mark Weir.
The seven-day, 300km race from Gap to Monaco kicked off with three timed stages. After a big climb to kick-off the day, Special Stage One started the race proper.
In terms of fitness, it is probably one of the hardest of the week, being more cross-country in nature and with a nasty vertical kick in the middle – but still interspersed with the steep and technical downs.
A short liaison stage led to Special Stage Two, which was downhill all the way, starting in woods and exploding into a section of open scrubland, with rock steps around every corner, finishing with ever tightening switchbacks and singletrack to the valley floor.
One more big pull from the valley floor to the last high of the day found racers at the start of Special Stage Three. Big sweeping switchbacks and perfect loam made for slip and drift corner-to-corner riding – a natural earth luge from top-to-bottom.
Nico Vouilloz – 28:19 minutes
Mark Weir – 28:48
Jerome Clementz – 28:57
Matt Ryan – 29:09
Ben Cruz – 30:02
Marc Beaumont – 30:15
Fabien Barel – 30:34
Andreas Hestler – 31:29
Steve Jones – 31:44
Rowan Sorrell – 32:22