RACE REPORT 2 #TCRNO6

Control Point 1 took up residence in the Explorer Hotel in Gaschurn, Austria at the foot of the Silvretta mountain range in the Alps. The first rider to get their brevet card stamped and collect a Transcontinental patch was Bernd Paul, cap 15, at 06:44 who stopped at the control until he saw Stephane Ouaja, 12, was about to arrive and hopped back on his bike.

 Photography: James Robertson

Photography: James Robertson

Stephane arrived at 07:21 and sat down to refuel. He seemed calm and collected as he set off moments before Bjorn Lenhard, cap 2, came through at 07:37. Bjorn had a quick turn around, filling up his bottles and heading off on to the parcours to climb the remaining 1,134m to the top of the Bielerhöhe Pass.

Bjorn was quick off the marks and soon overtook Stephane not long after leaving Gaschurn. While he was chasing Bernd over the pass, cap number 1 James Hayden, who had stopped for a rest at Lake Constance; had his card stamped at Control Point 1.

 Photography: James Robertson

Photography: James Robertson

Half an hour later, just before Bernd and Bjorn hit the town of Glitt 100km away from Gaschurn, Bjorn used the descent to overtake Bernd and take the lead. However, at Zammerberg he had to pull in and Bernd retook the lead. He wouldn’t hold it for long... When he reached Silz 35 km later it was Bernd’s turn to stop and Bjorn took the lead once again on the road to Innsbruck.

The pair turned south at Innsbruck on the 182. Bjorn charged through the town of Bruneck and Bernd stopped almost long enough for James Hayden to overtake him.

 

 Photography: James Robertson

Photography: James Robertson

Not long after midnight, as they hit the centre of the Gailtal Alps, Bjorn chose to bed down for some rest before covering the 65km to Control Point 2 in Mangart Česta and the others chose to do the same. Stephane Ouaja was set back by derailleur problems and holed up for the night too.

 Photography: James Robertson 

Photography: James Robertson 

Behind the leaders, Matthew Falconer wearing cap 5 rolled in moments after James Hayden, cap 157 Thomas Dupin was next and then Martin Temman.

As the day went on there were a few mishaps. Cap 61 Yoann Saludes climbed the Bielerhöhe Pass and saw another rider at the top eating chips. Asking if they had been to the checkpoint, they told him they had and that it was back down the mountain the way he’d come. He’d sailed past without stopping to get his stamp. The next thing we knew he bounded into the Explorer Hotel waving his hands in the air with a smile on his face: “I’m here”.

He was back in time for last food orders and a well-earned rest before doing it all again. Cap 223 Michal Switalski also arrived at Bielerhöhe only to realise he hadn’t stamped. At 06:30 he turned round and descended, dashed to the desk and went straight back out on the road to climb it again. He almost seemed pleased to have another crack at it.

 Photography: James Robertson

Photography: James Robertson

At 03:30 Bernd Paul and James Hayden were back on the move and took some time off Bjorn’s lead. James overtook Bernd and the pair were closing in on Bjorn but as they began to near him around 05:00 he stirred and around 08:00 was starting the Mangart parcours.

 Photography:: James Robertson 

Photography:: James Robertson 

James Craven 253a and Jonathan Rankin 253b are currently one of the fastest pairs the TCR has seen and arrived at CP1 around 16:00.

Ede Harrison, cap 179, is the fastest woman in the race so far, getting her stamp around 20:00 on Tuesday. She tucked into her dinner and caught a few hours’ kip before taking on the parcours overnight. The second solo woman through was Karolina Maciejewska who bounced in like she’d had four coffees and was coming back from a spin round the park.

Shortly after was Anisa Aubin, cap 21. Anisa had decided to ride to Geraardsbergen to cheer on the riders however, somewhere in the euphoria and excitement she found herself requesting the opportunity to ride last minute. Transcontinental Race have been known to accept the odd plucky last minute request to join the race. However, for the sake of the safety of the rider and secondly the reputation of the race our selection is strict. Anisa is a Transcontinental Race Veteran having taken part in TCRNo5. She has the experience of a race under her belt, the fitness and evident mental strength to succeed and a respect and passion for our race and the sport that made turning down her heartfelt request very difficult. Our own desire to encourage more female riders onto the Transcontinental Race finally tipped the decision in her favour.

Anisa has proved our faith in her, riding hard and strong with a determination to overcome some early mechanics. Early on Tuesday her rear shifter broke and after visiting three bike shops, none of which had a replacement, she’s riding on with just the shifter for her two front rings and an elaborate system of elastic bands and shifter indexing on the rear to give her a gear ratio to get her up the mountains.

 Photography: James Robertson 

Photography: James Robertson 

Innes Ogilvie arrived at CP1 at 20:49 and swiftly headed back out and up the mountain. But 12 hairpins from the top he heard a loud crack from his knee. He almost walked the rest in order to descend the other side of the pass but decided to return to Control 1. On the ride back he wasn’t able to keep his shoes clipped-in on even the smallest of climbs because of the pain. However after some stretching and the application of some tape the team saw him starting the climb from CP1 looking much better. As we type he is likely sheltering from the rain having completed the parcours in a threatening storm.

 Photography: James Robertson 

Photography: James Robertson 

Volunteer Adrian Phillipson described the basement car park of the Explorer Hotel as looking like a concrete campsite as more and more riders rolled in to bivvy for the night.

 Photography:: James Robertson 

Photography:: James Robertson 

The restaurant is a sea of riders this morning, boiling eggs, downing coffees and sharing stories then filtering out to begin the climb to the Bielerhöhe Pass before the heat sets in.