It's official, Kristof Allegaert (003) is AN ENTIRE COUNTRY ahead of the next rider. And whereas most riders would choose the flatter and more populated coastal route to CP4, Kristof of course heads straight through the centre of the barren and wild Dinaric Alps where food and drink are hard to come by, but hills are aplenty. He cycles like a kid who's just realised it's way past his curfew. Perhaps he only booked a week off work? His only rival now is the Volvo team car, who are actually having to move their entire schedule to make it to the finish line before him.
Meanwhile, the next eight riders are jostling for position through the foothills of Slovenia. In current order we have Mathias Dalgas (150) shooting into prime position. Carlos Mazon (60) is only 20kms behind, with Peter Sandholt (77) and Neil Phillips (172) hot on his heels. Hans-Rudolf Nyfeler (056) has made a bizarre move of heading for Lazzaretto, we can't quite understand why, we're sure they sell ice-creams inland too. Alexandre Bourgeonnier (002) isn't far behind and fresh out of the Alps is Ultan Coyle (004) and Nelson Trees (080).
Previous lead group members Matija Ilic (105) Bjorn Lenhard (26) and Stuart Birnie (142) are still stuck in the mountains, but by gum - if it isn't James Hayden (75) joining in the fondue party! This man is made of tough stuff, we would love to see James achieve his goal of a top 10 finish telling his chest infection where to stick it.
Let's take a look at some others who have made it into significant positions today. There's Vincent Muehlethaler (168) who is currently careening down the side of Monte Civetta to place in the top 20, along with Andy Sallnow (144) and Michael Wacker (072) who has been consistent throughout the race and is now sitting in 14th overall position.
There were seven scratchers today, they are: Gafyn Meredith (100) - cock-related injuries, Alice Williams (109) - Achilles heel issues, Jurriaan Oudhoff (143), Katie L'Herpiniere (178) reported that she has had been experiencing a bad stomach and after a few days of feeling quite delirious on the road decided it was time to scratch. One half of pair team Michal Waszak (214) leaving Zuzanna Madaj (214) and finally one part of team 227 Pierre Spielewoy (227) leaving Arthur Janus (227).
To make sure everyone get's a bit of coverage here, we're going to pull out a couple of riders who our dot-watcher extraordinaire's are following intently. Tonight's is Stuart James (006). This from his dot-watcher Claud Butler:
In other news...
Whilst Mike and his team lord it up in their Barvarian castle accommodation this evening...
... Let's spare a thought for Camille McMillan and his team who's accommodation is somewhat less desirable:
At least they have beds, this lot would kill for a gypsy caravan right now:
Pleasure v Pain
It's been an emotional and painful day for some, whilst others have been having the times of their lives. Here are some of our riders and team experiencing both pain and pleasure:
Talking of pain, we must recap what happened to Stephane Ouaja (012) last night... Stephane took a wrong turn somewhere on the 'Kantonsstrasse' road last night between CP2 & CP3, and found himself on what started as a gravel path and ended up steeper and steeper until he slowly reached a very cold and pitch black mountain peak. He posted these messages on Facebook:
He got in touch with the dot watchers to explain what had happened, and sent us these reports (careful, some (completely justified) strong language!)
You can see from the map below the route he travelled which took him eventually onto a mountain bike path which he had to navigate in the dark, with his bike on his shoulder, climbing down a scree path wearing cleats. It is essentially a ski-slope. I don't think a man has ever been happier to see the town of Davos. "Type-2" fun!
That's all we can manage for today, there's just time for a quick Fruit Update from Rory Kemper (116) who went against his audience's banana-requests and chose an apple:
And our parting quote, today from Winston Churchill:
"If you're going through hell, keep going".