At 02:15 CEST on the 5th August James Hayden set off from his rest stop at Craiova, Romania, with only one target in mind...the finish line in Meteora, only a short 800km away. He crossed the Danube river and headed for Serbia where he found the roads a welcome relief from Romania. The heat, however, was relentless and appeared to be taking it’s toll on his impressive speed. Before long he had crossed the border into Macedonia and, finally, on the 6th August after eight days twenty three hours and fourteen minutes James completed his race, even bagging the Strava KOM on the climb to the final parcours. Chapeau James!
photo James Robertson
Most riders came up the Transfăgărășan in the rain and fog today, cold, disappointed to miss the view but happy to see cheery faces and feel that bit closer to the finish. Half the arrivals were accompanied by a snappy 3 legged dog who came chasing them out from a nearby sheep pen. Melissa Prittchard (#233) was laughing “when you can’t outrun a dog with three legs you know you're going slow!” Karen Tostee (#228) was close on her tail having closed the gap since CP3 and shortly afterwards both could be found taking selfies with Juju. Meanwhile Josh Cunningham (#98) has had issues with his knees taking around 20 hours to climb the pass. He’s decided to rest and will make a decision in the morning. Janne Villikka (#189) had a bad puncture coming through the tunnel at the top of the pass. His tire was badly slashed but fortunately he had a spare and changed his tire and tube as a cloudy fog rolled across the mountain top.
photo James Robertson
The battle for third place started at 05:05 CEST on Sunday 6th August when Geoffroy Duassault (#93) rode past a resting Nelson Trees (#80) on the outskirts of Craiova in Romania. Sensing the danger Nelson set off whilst Geoffroy headed for a resupply. Taking parallel roads they headed towards the Serbia border and just outside Vidin at 12:24 CEST their paths crossed. For the next few hours it was a game of cat and mouse as one overtook the other always within a few kms of each other. At 01:47 CEST on the 7th Nelson passed his resting foe gaining a good lead as Geoffroy slept. Nearly 2 hours later #93 started to move and sensing his position had been lost put in a monumental effort to reel in the now tired #80. They battled on neck and neck until #93 finally drew clear and left an exhausted #80 sleeping on the side of the R1204. A battle which lasts over 24 hours is only something seen in ultra distance racing where planning, cunning and stamina are the ultimate deciders.
At the back of the pack our lantern rouge rider 102 Chris Davies scratched today at Innsbruck afternine days nineteen hours and twenty-two minutes. Chapeau Chris!
photo Lian van Leeuwen
Our second place rider started his final run in from the town of Valdicon Han in Serbia at 06:00 CEST on the 6th August. Following in the tire tracks of the winner Björn rode through Macedonia and crossed the border at Niki into Greece 12 hours later. Having battled the highest recorded temperatures in Europe for some years he continued his ride to Meteroa finally crossing the line at 11:37 CEST almost 14 hours after James Hayden. Jonas Goy rolled in almost 8 hours after Bjorn with a finish time of nine days twenty one hours and forty six minutes. Jonas has forged his own path throughout the race and clearly enjoys and excels at the climbs, will he be back next year to try and claim first place?