After 4 full days on the road the bulk of the riders are passing through CP2 today. The parcours for the second Control Point begins at the top of Slovenia’s highest road – Mangart Česta, which leads up to the 2,072m Mangart saddle, overlooked by Slovenia’s third highest peak, Mangart itself, commanding dizzying views of the Julian Alps and Italy’s Fusine lakes. The road is a classic, though comparatively unknown Alpine climb, built by Russian prisoners during the First World War, with tunnels hacked out of the mountainside, numerous switchbacks, and gradients as steep as 25% descending towards Kranjska Gora.
From Mangart Sedlo riders will descend to the checkpoint at Log Pod Mangartom, before following the Soča Valley towards the 50 tight hairpins (26 up, 24 down) of the 1,611m Vrśić Pass, and then descending over the cobbles towards Kranjska Gora.
The pointy end
There have been some big changes today. As Bjorn Lenard (#2) and James Hayden (#1) left CP2 and traversed through the Kalkalpen National Park they took decidedly different routes, with Bjorn favouring the East and James the west. By afternoon Bjorn had encountered the Žďárské vrchy national park which seems to have slowed him up a little, and allowed James to take the lead for the first time in this race. Bjorn is now 80km behind James, but Bjorn is currently resting and James is yet to do so.
Bernd Paul (#15) was next through CP2 but in the early hours it was reported that he fell off his bike the night before and could hardly walk (but states it's nothing serious). He has now scratched. This must be very disappointing for Bernd who has started the Transcontinental Race three times but never finished, despite strong starts.
Thomas Dupin (#157) is now in third position. Thomas is a 45 years old air traffic controller who comes from Marseille, south of France and has been cycIing for over 30 years. He started competitive long-distance riding with Paris-Brest-Paris in 2015 where he came in 27th, in 2016 the Castellet circuit coming 2nd, he won the 2016 1000 du sud, and won 2017's Born To Ride. He's a very experienced ultra-distance rider with plenty of solo trips all over Europe. This is Thomas's first attempt at the Transcontinental Race.
Only a few kms behind Thomas is Paris Bike Messenger Stephane Ouaja (#12). The Transcontinental Race in Stephane's own words
"20,000km of fast bikepacking, 7,000km of training on a 25kg bike, 100h of virtual training, 3 TCR of experience consisting of 4 attacks of dogs pack, 3 numb fingers, 2 crash while sleeping on the bike, 1 kid cheering me. Expecting to do 400km per day, with an average speed of 28km/h, riding through 14 countries, eating 12000cal/day, 8 litres of drink/day, finishing in 10 days to get in the top 10. For me though, the TCR means meeting tons of friends, rookies, volunteers, local people. A TCR will always be accompanied by stories to tell my son, four TCR helps me to know who I am, and trying to reach the highest ranks makes me stronger.”
15kms behind Stephane is Christoph Furbach (#157). If you speak German you can listen here to some audio recordings as Christoph checked in to CP1. Christoph entered TCRNo5 and came 26th overall after he had some damage to his bike through Romania. A strong rider who deserves a top 10 position.
Matthew Falconer (#5) had maintained a top 5 position until yesterday, he's dropped into about 15th now.
On instagram yesterday he wrote
Martin Temmen (#143) took the 5th spot this morning, with many riders close on his tail. Here he is just after reaching CP1:
We're delighted to see Alexandre Bourgeonnier (#148) back in the top ten - given he came second in TCRNo3 we knew he had it in him, and have found out that he had some major mechanicals on the first day where his wheel broke 80kms in, forcing him to wait 10 hours for a bike shop to open. Here he is sounding extremely positive:
In other news:
It was Ede Harrison's (#179)'s birthday today, and friends managed to get the message to the CP2 crew just in time who sang her Happy Birthday when she arrived. Here she is with her friend James Jinks (#132).
James Jinks may have had one too many jars last night as the CP2 team said "James Jinks woke up this morning not knowing who he was. When he did remember he believed Ede and himself had fallen out over some matter but couldn't remember why. Once he realised who he was and where he was he realised everything was fine between him and Ede." Sounds like my 20s.
It was also Svenja Schrade's (#185) birthday! She's currently between CP1 and CP2.
We have reports that Paul Ferguson (#212) woke up last night to find a hedgehog making off with his jacket, which contained his passport and brevet card. The hedgehog in question was quickly apprehended and a confession was tickled out of him.
If it's not hedgehogs causing problems, it's the sheep:
Or gravel paths...
Or steep inclines...
But gravel paths and steep inclines? That's just too much:
The Achilles Heel of this race is often the, er, Achilles Heel:
But cake is the answer to all troubles:
Auf Wiedersehenfor now, and riders remember, we're always watching you...