Josh Ibbett wins 3rd Transcontinental Race

Josh Ibbett first finisher after 4239km in 9 days // 23 hours // 54 minutes.

After a ride of 4239km Britain’s Josh Ibbett wins the 3rd Transcontinental race into the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul.

175 Racers set off from the Muur van Geraardsbergen in Belgium last Saturday.

[#02 Ibbett gets his Brevet card signed for the last time.] Photo: James Robertson

[#02 Ibbett gets his Brevet card signed for the last time.] Photo: James Robertson

Ibbett wins after finishing second in last years event and reached the Rumeli Hisari at 00:54 local time (EET) as second place France’s Alexandre Bourgeonnier was still approaching the Turkish border with Bulgaria with just under 400km between him and the finish.  Ibbett returned with the experience of 2014 under his belt, a more robust plan and a bigger hunger for the win.

[James Hayden was first to CP1 in 39 hours 59 min] Photo: Camille McMillan

[James Hayden was first to CP1 in 39 hours 59 min] Photo: Camille McMillan

The race lead was contested fiercely early in the race and was taken on day 2 by Brit James Hayden who, just in side the first 40 hours, made it to the first race control on the summit of Mont Ventoux in Provence.

Hayden continued to lead through the second control of the Strada dell’Assietta from Sestriere to Susa in the Italian alps and pushed the pace as Josh Ibbett and Irishman Ultan Coyle chased him down.  Coyle suffered two damage tyres on the rough gravel alpine road and fell back with an 8hr delay while Ibbett, an experienced endurance mountain biker, dispatched the section in record time.

[A severe reaction to the sun claimed the race of experienced ultra racer Bernd Paul early on at CP1]  Photo: Camille McMillan

[A severe reaction to the sun claimed the race of experienced ultra racer Bernd Paul early on at CP1]  Photo: Camille McMillan

Hayden and Ibbett broke well clear of the chasing pack and Ibbett had reduced his deficit to a mere 30km by the time the pair reached the Slovenian border.  Whilst Ibbett and Coyle were getting lengthier sleep breaks and riding faster on the road, Hayden was pushing on with just 20 minute naps to break up his riding days.

The wheels came off in Croatia however when Hayden began to experience a condition known as ‘Shermers Neck’ which affects ultra-distance racing cyclist and renders the neck muscles incapable of maintaining the head’s posture.

By the time both riders had been through control 3 in Vukovar, Croatia, Hayden had forfeited the lead with an extended break to sleep and recover and the gap to Ibbett extending to over 7 hours.  Coyle meanwhile dropped to 6th place overall through control 3, almost a full day behind race lead.  Frenchman Alexandre Bourgeonnier assumed 3rd place, just 5 hours behind Hayden.

[Josh Ibbett climbing fast to CP4 with a commanding lead. His experience the differentiator in this year's race] Photo: Camille McMillan

[Josh Ibbett climbing fast to CP4 with a commanding lead. His experience the differentiator in this year's race] Photo: Camille McMillan

As they came through control 4 in Montenegro Ibbett was now well ahead. Coyle was back up to 4th place again but 24hrs behind race lead and Bourgeonnier was promoted to 2nd. James Hayden came late Saturday afternoon a few hours previously after taking time out again in Kotor with his injury.  He climbed to CP4 after the severe heat of the day died away and rolled the dice one more time to stay in the race.  He attempted to tape his head into a useable position - a strategy which has been seen with various home made splints and devices in other ultra-distance races.

[James Hayden fashioned himself a neck support from K-tape at control 4 but would later withdraw at Podgorica] Photo: Camille McMillan

[James Hayden fashioned himself a neck support from K-tape at control 4 but would later withdraw at Podgorica] Photo: Camille McMillan

It was not to be however and Hayden later withdrew from Podgorica having made a stunning impression on this race and pushed himself beyond

As they approach Turkey Coyle therefore moved into third place and retained it now by a slim margin into Bulgaria - His straight line distance to Istanbul was greater than that of No.124 Thomas Navratil but Navratil faced more circuitous roads and mountains in Kosovo.  Coyle's charge for 3rd place was ended last night with a run in with a taxi in Sofia.  The Irishman escaped un-hurt but his bike did not and now he has a bent front wheel to repair before he can continue.

[Ultan Coyle at CP3, Vukovar] Photo: Marc Redford

[Ultan Coyle at CP3, Vukovar] Photo: Marc Redford

[Rider 124 Thomas Navratil took a sleep at CP4 and is now pushing through Bulgaria in 3rd place] Photo: Camille McMillan

[Rider 124 Thomas Navratil took a sleep at CP4 and is now pushing through Bulgaria in 3rd place] Photo: Camille McMillan

Former racing cyclist and professional photographer Camille McMillan has been following the action from the XC70 control vehicle to get a unique insight on the race and take over the official Instagram at https://instagram.com/thetranscontinental/

The Third Edition has seen the biggest field and the toughest parcour yet.

The following pack are rapidly thinning with over 40 retirements so far.  Riders who make it will be arriving at the Rumeil Hisari over the course of the next week and beyond.   To finish in time for the party they will need to ride more than 260km every day for 15 days and will climb more than 40,000 vertical meters of ascent.

More than 100 volunteers from across Europe have supported to the event staffing remote control points and distributing race updates.   The event has grown from just 30 riders in 2 years and is attracting a growing number of loyal followers known as ‘dot watchers’ who follow the tracking beacons of the riders and share and discuss their progress through combinations of social media.

[Cap #02 - Josh Ibbett] Photo: James Robertson

[Cap #02 - Josh Ibbett] Photo: James Robertson

[Josh Ibbett at Cafe Hisar] Photo: James Robertson

[Josh Ibbett at Cafe Hisar] Photo: James Robertson

[Ibbett's Mason Bike] Photo: James Robertson

[Ibbett's Mason Bike] Photo: James Robertson

All images copyright as credited.  All rights reserved.