The approach to stage one on day three saw riders become more personally acquainted with their bikes. Yes, it’s the first major carry of the 2012 Mavic Trans-Provence. A 500m carry or push depending upon your persuasion led to a col in the mountains and the first special stage of the day.
An equally steep descent balanced out the climb to the summit and fired the riders on to the valley floor and a longer liaison stage than in previous years, with a long road climb to the feed station.
It’s very easy to overuse the word brutal when describing Mavic Trans-Provence press, but it’s near enough unanimous - nine out of 10 riders that had enough lung capacity to answer simple questions at the top of a hill reckon the climb to special stage two was brutal.
However, the whooping and shouting at the bottom of the new special stage seemed to suggest that the all the hard work uphill was well worthwhile.
Another long road section followed by the last fire road climb of the day led, as always, to the day’s final special stage: fast, traversing singletrack with plenty of exposure across desert-like hillside dropped riders into a wooded valley bottom and a final flat-out pedal across undulating (some of it very steeply undulating!) singletrack.
Even after all that were were no changes in position for the top riders at the end of the day but there was plenty more riding and racing ahead.