The sixth day of the race fell on a Saturday, riders rode through music drifting from street festivals and past riverbanks scattered with families swimming in the summer sunshine. At the front of the race, James Hayden, cap 1, started his day at 08:00 some four hours after bedding down for the night just beyond Control Point 3.
Moving south towards Bratislava he rode more than 400 km until he passed the Slovakian capital at 04:00 on Aug. 4. Behind him, cap 2, Bjorn Lenhard wasn’t going to allow James to entertain the idea of easing off the gas as he chased the leader down through the night. He was past the town of Brno 130 km north-west of Bratislava before James Hayden was back on the road again by 08:30.
In Hungary James chose a route that took him to the east of Lake Balaton, the largest freshwater lake in Central Europe. Bjorn hugged closer to the border of Austria as James carried on through Croatia until 01:00 when he stopped at Vinkovci. Bjorn took a break when he reached the southern end of Lake Balaton then left before sunrise. At time of writing Bjorn was 233km from Control Point 4 and James had crossed into Bosnia and was 92km from the control.
Cap 157 Thomas Dupin edged into third place on the same route as Bjorn to the west of Lake Balaton. It pushed cap 12 Stephane Ouaja back to fourth as he took James’s route through central Hungary.
Close behind both is cap 214 Mohamed El Alami with the rest of the top 10 following on roughly 20 km apart.
Hats off to cap 148 Alexandre Bourgeonnier who has shrugged off his early mechanical setback and is holding 10th place.
Cap 253b Jonathan Rankin is riding strong after splitting from 253a James Craven yesterday. He’s close to the top 10 after losing time in the previous 24 hours when his partner fell ill though now they’ve split he’s out of the general classification.
This means the front pair is now 256a Charles Christiansen and 256b Nico Deportago-Cabrera who are set to reach Control Point 3 later today.
Women’s leader Ede Harrison, cap 179, remains strong as she climbs to Control Point 3 today. She’s in 30th overall. Anisa Aubin, cap 22, is now in second place in the women’s field and 72nd overall. She pushes Karolina Maciejewska, cap 63, into third among the women and 77th overall.
Cap 100 Erika Rowen was all smiles and wit at the beginning of the race but by Control Point 1 she was grimacing with saddle sores. She spent two days in pharmacies trying to get to the bottom of it but late on Aug.4 she posted on Facebook:
“I prepped nearly the whole last two days. I did everything I could to prepare my butt for the saddle, I checked out of my hotel and started to climb out of Innsbruck and I could not. More details later when I’m 100% at terms. But this is #tcrno6cap100 hanging up my cap.
A final shout out to cap 185 Svenja Schrade who, after a lot of trouble with neck pain, vowed to try to reach Control Point 2 before it closes. She rode through the night and got there with minutes to spare before the cutoff time.
Cap 19 Niall Cooling has said goodbye, posting on Facebook: “With a heavy heart I’ve scratched today due to a knee issue. Got to CP2 at lunchtime yesterday and knew the adventure was over. Spend the rest of the day and night battling the emotions and waited until this morning to make the final decision. I’m starting now to be able to pull some positives from the adventure and overcome my feeling of failure. The rider comradery has just been astonishing. Watching people come and go at CP2 was so tough but also really special.”
We also say farewell to Brompton rider Roger Seaton. He said: “Rear Alfine hub playing up since CP1, it’s got worse to the point the resistance is slowing me to crawling pace... Can you advise the team they won’t be seeing a Brompton in Greece... I did try bloody hard." Chapeau Roger.
In total, 40 riders have now scratched and 214 are still riding.
Finally, we’re hoping cap 152 Ryan Le Garrec finds some good conversation on the road today. He posted: “Out of all my misery, bad sleep, heavy luggage, gravel and awful routing with bugging devices, disc slipped in my back two weeks before the start and some others, I think the hardest part is the loneliness at this race. But gosh what a race, I love her, she doesn’t love me back yet but am stubborn and will come back to charm her. Still not scratching but every day starts like this : I think today am going home!!!”