The six day Trans Provence stage race is without a doubt the purest form of enduro racing in existence. Event organizer, Ask Smith, spends the better part of a year scouring the Maritime Alps for new routes, the steeper more exposure riddled the better. With farmers, soldiers and cattle forming trails in the French hills for literally 1000’s of years, the course rarely repeats. Riders are racing blind. Racing blind embraces the true spirit of Enduro (I think i just vomited in my own mouth), to excel here, without walking or pre riding trail is the penultimate achievement. Balancing riding fast with staying in control and dealing with ( and surviving) surprise turns and trail features is the name of the game.
It seems that ex-Finnish world cup Kona rider Antti Laiho has mastered this balancing act, he currently sits in 15th overall (and first in the masters) with one day to go. The field is stacked, a whose who of EWS’s best racers populate the field, Ludo May, Jamie Nicoll, Greg Callaghan, Nico Lau, Yoann Barelli and Matti Lehikoinen are all in the mix. With one day to go and Anti’s nearest competitor in the masters just over a minute behind, he will need to ride on the edge of his comfort zone to take the win.
There’s some great interview footage with Anti in this day two coverage of the event.