It is probably, together with stage 4 , the king of TRANSPYR GRAN RAID MTB stages 2018…to be confirmed by you !
With a big amount of elevation and totalizing still quite a long distance, this is however a beautiful stage where we progress following forest tracks and small trails through unknown areas of the Pyrenees mountains range. After a transition ride on asphalt quiet roads, you will have to face a though, long and open climb, rewarded however by an outstanding 360 degrees view once above the ridge, at 1800 metres height. As we had a long and though winter, remains of snow could be observed on the southern slopes of the high Pyrenees peaks. The beginning of the descent is potentially dangerous since it is very fast, steep, and partially rocky with some rain water drains that crosses the trail. Once reached the abandoned village of Sant Sebastià de Buseu, located on a smart hill, you continue your descent to Gerri de la Sal followed a nice combination of fast forest tracks and twisty singletracks.
Altogether, it is one of the longest descents of all stages, if not the longest, and it requires the same amount of concentration, strength and riding ability. That is why we are sure you will appreciate the very nice location of the food station where to have a deserved rest.
A second short but almost “on the limit” steep trail leads you up to the highly photogenic natural lake of Montcortès, from where it follows a short but nice downhill to Senterada, where the third and last food location is located.
To complete this third stage, it will still be necessary to overcome a third and quite long ascent, beginning on asphalt quiet roads and continued on wide forest tracks, which does not represent a technical challenge but at that point of the day it truly is a though test! In the last part of the itinerary, you just leave yourself down the road to el Pont de Suert.
3.1 Buseu, 28 km ; 750 + ; 1300 –
Although it is not usual, in this occasion the timed sector features much more descent than elevation. The sector begins about one kilometre after the first food station in Espaén. It consists of a ascent on forest tracks –partly inside the forest and partly on open spaces- plus the long descent until the second food station as explained in the general description. Mind that some deviations from the forest track to take a singletrail might not be evident to find. Therefore it is paramount to combine fully attention to the terrain but to your GPS as well: please keep completely concentrated all the way down and from time to time give arms and hands a chance to recover the strength!
3.2 Colldeberri, 14 km ; 400 + ; 200 –
It does start after about 3 kilometres from the third and last food station located in Senterada and it consists of an affordable climb on good forest track until the pass called Colldeberri, at almost 1400 metres height, and from which the trail leads down until the end of the sector with very low technical challenge, but where high speeds could be reached thus high concentration and keeping on your right side of the trail is advisable.
(consider them as approximated)
Stage distance: 115 km
Timed Sectors: 42 km
Liaisons: 73 km
Stage elevation: 3200 m
Stage descent: 3050 m
KEEP IN MIND:
Just take it easy and enjoy the surrounding landscapes to try to move forward on the long ascents.
Strong concentration and skills are paramount at the descents, especially at the first and very long one, potentially dangerous because of the carried speed on the forest tracks and the partially technical singletrails.
The very last part on a fast descending tarmac road requires attention as there might be traffic, it is fast and there are some tunnels, when fatigue plays an important role in terms of reaction capacity.