It’s a story of two men at the front of the race following yesterday’s news that Bernd Paul had to scratch after a fall. Stephane Ouaja also announced on Instagram why he was falling back in the race: “May have twisted my ankle, can’t sustain the pain, not moving fast for that”.
As the clock struck midnight on Aug. 2, cap 1 James Hayden pulled in at Windischgarsten to the east of Salzburg in Austria while cap 2 Bjorn Lehman continued, taking a more north-easterly route than James Hayden toward the Czechia border.
By 04:30 James Hayden was back on the road and began chipping away at Bjorn’s lead on a different more Westerly route. By midday, both riders had passed through the border to Czechia and throughout the afternoon we watched the two dots of their trackers heading north in parallel on roads around 40km apart to the east of Prague.
As evening drew in, it wasn’t clear whether Bjorn had decided to rest or if mechanicals were causing his slow crawl towards the town of Bitovany where his dot remained stationary for around 11 hours. Meanwhile James Hayden confidently closed in on Control Point 3 in the Sudetes mountain range bordering Poland and the Czech Republic.
The control is located at the top of a parcours which takes riders up the steepest climb in Poland. It’s relentless 10-14% gradients take riders deep into the forest for 8km and then in the final 2-3km it becomes 14-20% in places with rough tarmac and broken road surfaces.
It is required that all riders must make the ascent to the control from the Polish side of the mountain as the climb is listed as one of the race ‘parcours’. James Hayden decided not to ride the 20km round the mountain to the Polish side and instead chose to climb from Czechia, descend down into Poland and then turn round and climb back to the Control Point as the parcours requires. He got his stamp and his patch just before 02:00 then left to find a room for the night in Spindlruv Mlyn.
Shortly after 07:00 on Friday 3 August, Bjorn was back on the road towards Control Point 3.
Behind the top two, who have now created some space around themselves in terms of the overall race, there was an impassioned ride from cap 148 Alexandre Bourgeonnier to pull himself into eight place. His rear hub had failed him not long after the start of the race and he lost many hours trying to source a new back wheel.
The talented twosome, cap 253a James Craven and 253b Jonathan Rankin continue to worry the top 10 as they close in on the Czechia border. Cap 179 Ede Harrison had plenty to celebrate yesterday as she was the lead woman, 35th overall, as well as celebrating her birthday on the road. She told us that racing the TCR was her gift to herself this year. We hope cap 185 Svenja Schrade also got a slice of cake to celebrate her birthday while on the road yesterday.
Cap 50 Oliver Wolf picked up an injury that he says is making climbing difficult. After a few hours of deliberation he decided to hand back his tracker and officially scratched from the race around 11am.
Christopher Teasdale, cap 88, was one of the freshest-looking riders to come through Control Point 2 and said he was feeling confident in his race so far.
Brompton rider Roger Seaton posted on Instagram to say he felt great reaching Control Point 1 before the cutoff after riding through the night in thunderstorms. He was ploughing on to make up for a three hour, ‘spicy off road reroute’ he’d taken to avoid a busy road earlier in the day. However, Roger announced he no longer plans to struggle to reach Control Point cutoffs but will ride at his own pace to Meteora, Greece in the hope of making the party on his on #TransBromptonental race.