Control 2: Stelvio Pass

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Control No.2 the familiar Stelvio Pass closed at 18:11 on Thursday evening after 3 days of operation.  Of course the first rider to open it was no surprise to us by now, the domination of Kristof Allegaert over the second edition race was becoming obvious as riders approached the pass.  What looked in greater doubt was whether or not he might actually reach the control before the control team.  The tracker attached to the Control Car (or the “Brooks / Volvo V60 Control Car” to give its proper title) was still registering its location at the Supernova Designs office in Freiburg when Allegaert was making his start on Fluela Pass.  The vehicle was some 6hrs from the pass, whilst the rider appeared to be a similar time away from the summit.

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Transcontinental 2014 Race. Day 4. Checkpoint at Stelvio Pass.

The team must thank Supernova for their services as a pit stop for the crew at the most unsociable hours as the team transferred from the Paris control over night.  The Media Car duo of Sam and Matthias arrived at 2am to be rested and fed and the Control Car did not make it until morning for showers after sleeping in a motorway rest area.  We must also thank them for taking delivery of Rider #12 Daniel Jessee bike and equipment which was recovered by the Control Car from a hospital near Combs La Ville.  We regret to report that Daniel had a collision with a vehicle during heavy rain a few hours after he left Control 1 which left him with fractured ribs.  We wish Daniel the best recovery possible.

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A stealthy Media Car had been despatched two hours earlier and caught up with the first three riders en route to Control 2 in plenty of time, so in fact there was never any danger Kristof would arrive before the control was open, but it was fun to see if he would beat the red car.

As it happened when he reached the town of Prato Kristof’s tracker was turned off for around an hour and by the time the car arrived, he had only just appeared back on the map and was getting started on the climb.  A missing seat pack solved the mystery his time in Prato.  Kristof’s belongings were wet from the rains that had been falling all day and were drying at his accommodation for the evening whilst he made a return trip to Albergo Folgore.

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Kristof reached the top at 20:45 and returned immediately to Prato allo Stelvio.  Josh Ibbett and Richard Dunnett meanwhile had been riding together and stopped near Davos as storms closed in ahead of them.  The rains had been persistant all day but Josh described a ‘wall of water’ ahead of them and the two retired early for fear of being caught in the storm.

When morning came Josh was much quicker off the mark and up early to climb over Fluelapass and Oftenpass and start up to Stelvio.  He put the climb away in a very quick time and reached the summit at 10:28 but by now was 12 hours behind Allegaert.  As Ibbett descended he passed Dunnett on the lower slopes.  The time taken to ride the pass and descend can mean that riders with significant gaps between them may still see each other on the pass.  Dunnett crested the climb 3.5hrs after Ibbett but confessed to not having his head in the race and having struggled to keep going.  The four hours that seperated him from Josh by the time he descended from Control 2 could be attributed to procrastination and apathy.  Josh was simply quicker out of bed and onto the pedals.

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As Richard descended so he encountered Adrian O’Sullivan in 4th place half way up the pass and so the control was truly open for business with a steady stream of visitors.  Adrian was possibly our most fortunate rider to get the best of the weather and avoid the storms on his approach.  He took a Northerly route through Austria finding plenty of wet roads in front of him but not the offending precipitation.  Of course we’re a big believer in ‘you make your own luck’ and taking a punt on a different route, spending a late night in the saddle stopping only for broken sleep is what put Adrian in such a position to be ‘lucky’.

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Transcontinental 2014 Race. Day 4. Checkpoint at Stelvio Pass.

Next in, number 14 Ishmael Burdeau was less fortunate and was the first of many riders to appear at Control 2 at 19:45 looking very wet indeed, he was also the first rider to decide that the Albergo Folgore was too comfortable to leave and booked in for dinner and a bed.  Likewise Mark Collinson (#11) who arrived 40 minutes later also decided on an early am departure but the next two arrivals had other plans.

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Transcontinental 2014 Race. Day 4. Checkpoint at Stelvio Pass.

Steffan Streich (#89) and Matthias Muller (#50) arrived in quick succession just after 9pm.  Streich had checked the weather forecast and decided morning or evening, he was going to get wet whatever, so he stayed a while to dry out by the fire before heading off back down the mountain.  Muller’s hand was rather more forced however; he was the second rider to drop belongings at the top of the pass and set off up the pass with only a light jacket.  Matthias raided the stores of the ever accommodating Albergo and dressed himself almost completely in a cling-film and newspaper laminate, complete with aerodynamic helmet wrap.

Transcontinental 2014 Race. Day 4. Checkpoint at Stelvio Pass.

Sergei Konov woke the control up at 6:24 am on Wednesday, with a similar early morning start on the pass that he had in the 2013 race.  The TCR veteran returned to the pass a full day ahead of his last year’s schedule however well inside the top ten.  Gunther Desmedt finished off the top 10 and was resident over night in Prato allo Stelvio along with Konov but found his bike on the wrong side of a locked door in his hotel when he was due to depart.  Desmedt hit control 2 just before 10 am as the Control Car was taking to the road for another 18 hr drive to control 3.  The timing versus our unstoppable race leader was, of course, as always; tight.

Coming down the mountain we saw no less than ten riders starting a busy day on the Stelvio as the main pack started to come through.  Among the first few was our ladies leader Pippa Handley with a great ride come through 13th to control 2.  Our photographer Matthias Wjst stayed on the pass to capture those who came through and Control Operator Sam was joined by Fran Hollander, veteran of June’s Trans Am race to sign riders in and document their accommodation particulars.

Transcontinental 2014 Race. Day 5 Checkpoint at Stelvio Pass.

Riders came through until 2am on the Wednesday night with Albergo owners staying up to welcome them with a warm fire and food and many of them taking refuge over night.  The conditions worsened on the pass towards the afternoon and evening and temperatures dropped below zero Celsius.  The TCR car made a trip down the pass to make sure that stationary dots were not still on the road and had stopped for reasons other than good judgement.  The Alps were making this year’s race a cruel one, not just on the pass itself but the riders of course must get to the bottom of the climb in the first place and had by now spent more than 24hrs at the mercy of the weather.

Transcontinental 2014 Race. Day 5 Checkpoint at Stelvio Pass.

Transcontinental 2014 Race. Day 5 Checkpoint at Stelvio Pass.

Thursday and snow was forecast, the deteriorating weather was stretching and breaking the field all day with riders slowed and stopped by the onslaught.  Among the heroes of the day however was George Michakis who was the only rider this year not to understand the repeated message that it must be an East side ascent of the pass to qualify for a stamp in one’s Brevet card.  The Greek number 93 rider could scarcely believe it.  In weather that none of the control crew would have liked to have experienced for more than 5 minutes, they had the uncomfortable task of delivering the news that he had climbed the wrong side of the mountain.  After some soul searching he returned to them and said “I’m going back” and in only four hours he was back in front of them again.

Transcontinental 2014 Race. Day 6 Checkpoint at Stelvio Pass.

Its one thing to go and correct a mistake that will win you a race when you can afford the time to do so in good weather.  To do this in the middle of the last day of the control’s operation for personal endeavour however, just to get a stamp in one’s Brevet card and climbing one of the highest passes in the Alps against such inhospitable conditions.  Well, what can we say about that?  Courageous riding indeed.  Bravo George.

Transcontinental 2014 Race. Day 5 Checkpoint at Stelvio Pass.

Transcontinental 2014 Race. Day 5 Checkpoint at Stelvio Pass.

CONTROL 2 Sign in, all time CET…

1 1 Kristof Allegaert 21:51 11/8/2014
2 90 Josh Ibbett 10:28 12/8/2014
3 2 Richard Dunnett 14:03 12/8/2014
4 67 Adrian O‘Sullivan 16:22 12/8/2014
5 14 Ishmael Burdeau 19:45 12/8/2014
6 11 Mark Collinson 20:26 12/8/2014
7 89 Steffan Streich 21:04 12/8/2014
8 50 Matthias Müller 21:07 12/8/2014
9 85 Sergei Konov 6:24 13/8/2014
10 31 Gunter Desmedt 9:57 13/8/2014
11 32 Samuel Becuwe 12:09 13/8/2014
12 14 Stephen Bailey 12:41 13/8/2014
13 78 Pippa Handley 12:56 13/8/2014
14 10 David King 13:13 13/8/2014
15 46 Ethan Stewart 13:19 13/8/2014
16 45 Kim Raeymaekers 13:24 13/8/2014
17 21 Michael Woolridge 14:55 13/8/2014
18 17 Nicholas Stiles 14:57 13/8/2014
19 61 Gianmarco Vignati 15:05 13/8/2014
20 63 Massimiliano Fancoli 15:05 13/8/2014
21 42 Andrew Allday 15:10 13/8/2014
22 49 Barry Duncan 15:45 13/8/2014
23 79 Pierangelo Rivoira 16:48 13/8/2014
24 41 Hans-Jürgen Schmitz-Rech 17:27 13/8/2014
25 77 Paul Alderson 18:29 13/8/2014
26 24 Chris White 18:30 13/8/2014
27 92 Chris Philips 18:52 13/8/2014
28 91 Henri van Winkoop 19:45 13/8/2014
29 68 Mario Zagrando 20:05 13/8/2014
30 101 Matt Edwards 20:24 13/8/2014
31 99 Chris Dobbs 20:55 13/8/2014
32 64 Rob Goldie 21:19 13/8/2014
33 7 Nick ‘cornfield’ Dodd 21:23 13/8/2014
34 95 Tim Arnold 22:23 13/8/2014
35 4 Mikko ‘off piste’ Mäkipaa 22:40 13/8/2014
36 5 Matthijs Ligt 23:20 13/8/2014
37 19 Mike Sheldrake 0:21 14/8/2014
38 55 Ben Thompson 6:25 14/8/2014
39 56 Gabby Leveridge 6:25 14/8/2014
40 20 John Duggan 6:53 14/8/2014
41 48 Chris Bennett 7:48 14/8/2014
42 88 Milko Gennai 7:48 14/8/2014
43 34 Rob Savin 7:57 14/8/2014
44 36 Kieran Shanahan 7:57 14/8/2014
45 3 Tom ‘Spooner’ Stone 8:00 14/8/2014
46 35 Nick Busst 8:00 14/8/2014
47 13 Gavin Scott 9:02 14/8/2014
48 29 Lee Pearce 9:16 14/8/2014
49 6 Rickie Cotter 9:32 14/8/2014
50 71 Vasiliki Voutzali 9:47 14/8/2014
51 51 Dylan Humble 11:36 14/8/2014
52 62 Aaron Beard 12:01 14/8/2014
53 80 Willem van Zyl 12:29 14/8/2014
54 16 Jonathan Elliott 14:25 14/8/2014
55 81 Vincenzo ‘yes’ Szannicando 14:51 14/8/2014
56 87 Ian Oliver 15:02 14/8/2014
57 93 George ‘Hero’ Michakis 15:08 14/8/2014
58 28 Mattia Biffi 15:09 14/8/2014
59 30 Silvano Comando 15:39 14/8/2014
60 47 Andreas Badass 15:39 14/8/2014
61 66 Martin McConnell 16:15 14/8/2014
62 37 Gareth McBaine 16:48 14/8/2014

 

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