Transcontinental Update 2: Leaders pass through the Alps, Navigation separates the field.

Headline news on the break of day 3 is that our leader checked in at CP2 at 5:16am just as the sun was rising, having started just after 3:15am from Prato allo Stelvio, this puts the first bench mark time from London to the Stelvio Pass at a very impressive 68hrs 16min.  Kristof Allegaert timed his climb perfectly for an ascent in the darkness and a descent in the light.  Allegaert is still setting a punishing pace but  keeping a cool head, the event vehicle caught up with him just as headed towards the beautiful Fluelapass, the first of several climbs that would bring him to the base of the Stelvio.  He wasn’t in too much of a hurry not to stop and chat and even offered to buy the event crew drinks, but when questioned about his strategy he’s a man of few words.  “Enough” was the answer when we asked him how much sleep he was getting, we later found out that enough translates to an average of 4hrs a night.  Kristof also revealed that he knew this area very well and hasn’t appeared to miss a turn since Belgium, possibly even London.

That hasn’t been the case for most of our field, especially Richard Dunnett who reported several wrong turns yesterday including “20 miles in the wrong direction” and suggested that he’d lost too much ground.  Nevertheless he is closing on CP2 having crested Fluelapass at around 9:30am and is on target to be enjoying a lunch at 2800m.  Once the racers clear the Alps Allegaert’s navigational advantage will drop off and Dunnett’s “worldly” cycling experience may see him back in the fight.  Rimas Grigenas meanwhile took a wider turn into Switzerland over the last 24hrs and the unstoppable advance of Mikko Mapaa means that there’s a battle for 3rd step on the Cima Coppi podium that sits at the top of CP2.

Navigational issues have also spread the entire field over a vast distance from Luxembourg to Italy.  Shaun Timberlake reported navigation equipment issues on Day 1 that nearly had him heading back across the English channel, re-calibrated and refocused though he is charging back through the pack, his issues seemingly mitigated.  Brian Welsh’s blog continues to document the RAAM racer’s trials with the unfamiliar world of route finding and feeding himself while Matt Wilkins posted on Twitter yesterday; “Time for some impromptu route planning after too many kilometres of this”

matt_wilkins_corn_field

Ed Jones was feeling the solitude when we caught up with him, another test of long distance solo cycling.  Some are in their element on the long lonely road while as many others crave company and a little human contact, even only if its a few words.  Ed reported that he’d only talked to 2 people all day and both in a different language.  At present we have no reports of riders withdrawing or ‘scratching’ from the race.  Chris Ellam has however reported that he has stopped moving due to sickness and a busted knee but signed off with see you on Stelvio, a clear signal of a determined man.

 

Thus concludes our second report as we await more riders at the second control, the leaders have certainly kept the event team busy over the last few days trying to keep pace with them, but now we have set up a comms base at the Albergo Folgore – we’ll be here until the 8th August and look forward to bringing you all the stories and pictures as riders come in.