The morning shuttle took riders up the twists and turns of the staggering Col d’Allos road, which snakes its way uphill as it clings to the vertical mountainside, summiting at 2,200 metres and ready to start the warm-up traverse.
From the first special of the day – Stage Five of the weeklong event – things got tough, fast. A combination of what in the past was two separate stages, both were linked into one monster for 2016. It was a demanding way to get the day started – classic TP. And things wouldn’t get much easier, especially on the arduous 650m climb from 6 to 7. It would most certainly be worth it though – at 11m 28s for stage winner Nico Lau, and carving its way though the stunning forest before rocketing across the 45º lower slopes, Stage Seven made for the sort of trail that racers will remember for life.
The day’s route finished with a final loop out into the wilds and a ‘short’ five-minute stage to bring riders home to camp in the Villars-Colmars valley.
In the men’s racing the top of the results sheet showed Nico Lau once again forging ahead from the rest, taking three of the four stage victories. The one remaining stage win went to a flying Gustav Wildhaber, who took second place on the day with Francois Bailly-Maitre in third.
Lau extends his overall 2016 TP lead from Bailly-Maitre, and he goes into Day Three with nearly a minute buffer over his compatriot.
Ines Thoma remains at the top of the women’s results sheet, although it looks like she may have a fight on her hands as Carolin Gehrig edged beyond her to take the day’s win and solidify her second place in the overall race standings. Gehrig now sits only seven seconds behind Thoma.
Day Three will take riders on another journey through the pristine valleys and passes of the area as they tackle the longest day yet – 48km riding with over 3,000m of descending as the event moves towards Valberg.