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Briton takes less than 9 days to get from Geraardsbergen in Belgium to Meteora in Greece in unsupported race

British rider James Hayden has won the fifth edition of the Transcontinental Race, arriving at the finish line in Meteora, Greece, at around 9.15pm Central European Time on Sunday evening.

He overhauled his friend and early leader Bjorn Lenhard on Wednesday. Earlier that day, they had passed the third of four checkpoints, in the High Tatras mountains of Slovakia, with Lenhard still in the lead.

Following the second checkpoint at Montegrappa in Italy, Hayden had chosen to approach Slovakia via the longer route through Slovenia and Hungary, rather then the more direct but tougher one via Austria, which Lenhard took.

While some were sceptical about his plans, the gamble paid off handsomely. He was still climbing to Checkpoint 3 as Lenhard descended from it, but once he caught him later that evening there was no looking back.

Since then, he continued to extend his lead, with Lenhard nearly 150 kilometres behind by the time Hayden crossed the finish line this evening.

Most of that lead was built in the past day and a half as Hayden rode hard, spending barely any time off the bike.

By the time he finished this evening, he had covered around 3,650 kilometres at an average speed of 26.8 kilometres an hour, according to his page on Trackleaders.

Over the slightly less than nine days, he spent around six days 23 hours on the bike, and 12 minutes shy of 48 hours stopped, including sleep.

It's the third attempt at the Transcontinental Race for Hayden, who was one of this year's pre-race favourites, with former winners Kristoff Allegaert and Josh Ibbett both absent.

In 2015, he started well, but fell victim to Shermer's Neck, the condition that is the bane of ultracyclists, causing severe pain and weakness in the muscles of the neck.

It's named after former Race Across America rider, and later race director, Michael Shermer, who suffered from it during the 1983 edition.

Hayden was back last year, but was hit by a chest infection early on which meant he had to take an extended break from the race.

He eventually battled back to take fourth place, earning last year's award for the most combative rider.

Writing on his website shortly before this year's race began, Hayden said: "For all Transcontinental racers and followers, this year’s race will be a bittersweet experience.

"The sudden and tragic death of Mike Hall in March 2017, while racing in Australia was a terrible shock.

"Mike was one of, if not the world’s best ultra endurance racers and Transcontinental was conceived and organised by him.

"For 2017 the race is being organised by a group of his close friends and family, we collectively thank you for stepping up in this hard time.

"Together, we will line up in Geraardsbergen to compete in his vision of a pure bicycle race, testing and pushing the resolve of its competitors to their limits.

"I love and live to race my bicycle. The only way I can think to honour his vision is to race my best and enjoy every moment, to make it a celebration of his extraordinary life."

He's certainly fulfilled that promise.

Chapeau.

> Catch up with our Transcontinental Race Live(-ish) Blog

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

11 comments

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ped [287 posts] 4 months ago
5 likes

Incredible riding, James! 

And top reporting, Simon! 

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kil0ran [598 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

Whoever thought that watching a dot could be so compelling? Congratulations also to the Fairlight boys - small British firm beats the big guns.

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sm [405 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Great ride, amazing race. Watching those little dots beats the Tour de France hands down. For anyone who's not followed race, here's just some of the highlights: https://humancyclist.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/transcontinental-race-dotw...

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StraelGuy [1096 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

Great ride! I took my Strael for it's first spin tonight and it really is a  corker of a bike!

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Freddy56 [280 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

Some boyo. 

Amazing the strenght of body and mind.

to all riders a pint!

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mylesrants [390 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

legend

 

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brooksby [2709 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

Amazing achievement

But where is he pointing on that photo, exactly? 

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JeevesBath [195 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Great achievement, but am I the only person who is uncomfortable with these ultra-endurance events being called 'races'?

This may lead the uninformed to assume that 'race' means cyclists going full pelt on open roads in traffic when the reality is nothing of the kind (I think I remember reading Christoph Strasser averaged 15mph on RAAM, which is about the same speed as my morning commute). Given the death of a competitor on the first day plus the recent tragedy with Mike Hall this is an unfair perception where people might assume that they were taking risks in order to beat their rivals.

Surely 'challenge' might be a more representative term?  

 

Avatar
Rapha Nadal [677 posts] 4 months ago
3 likes
JeevesBath wrote:

Great achievement, but am I the only person who is uncomfortable with these ultra-endurance events being called 'races'?

This may lead the uninformed to assume that 'race' means cyclists going full pelt on open roads in traffic when the reality is nothing of the kind (I think I remember reading Christoph Strasser averaged 15mph on RAAM, which is about the same speed as my morning commute). Given the death of a competitor on the first day plus the recent tragedy with Mike Hall this is an unfair perception where people might assume that they were taking risks in order to beat their rivals.

Surely 'challenge' might be a more representative term?  

 

Group of cyclists pit themselves against each other to reach a destination in the quickest time possible.  Sounds like a race to me?

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [990 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
Rapha Nadal wrote:
JeevesBath wrote:

Great achievement, but am I the only person who is uncomfortable with these ultra-endurance events being called 'races'?

This may lead the uninformed to assume that 'race' means cyclists going full pelt on open roads in traffic when the reality is nothing of the kind (I think I remember reading Christoph Strasser averaged 15mph on RAAM, which is about the same speed as my morning commute). Given the death of a competitor on the first day plus the recent tragedy with Mike Hall this is an unfair perception where people might assume that they were taking risks in order to beat their rivals.

Surely 'challenge' might be a more representative term? 

Group of cyclists pit themselves against each other to reach a destination in the quickest time possible.  Sounds like a race to me?

quite, isn't that basically what sportives and many 'charity' rides are now with the noddy hat brigade turning them into pseudo races and taking risks for the sake of a few seconds. Had too many stories come under my nose about exactly this and why people are turning away from these events. whilst these ultra long distance riders are usually much better behaved they are still 'racing', still pushing as hard as they can to reach their goal before someone else and all the encumbant risks that that involves.

Avatar
CygnusX1 [637 posts] 4 months ago
4 likes
Rapha Nadal wrote:
JeevesBath wrote:

Great achievement, but am I the only person who is uncomfortable with these ultra-endurance events being called 'races'?

This may lead the uninformed to assume that 'race' means cyclists going full pelt on open roads in traffic when the reality is nothing of the kind (I think I remember reading Christoph Strasser averaged 15mph on RAAM, which is about the same speed as my morning commute). Given the death of a competitor on the first day plus the recent tragedy with Mike Hall this is an unfair perception where people might assume that they were taking risks in order to beat their rivals.

Surely 'challenge' might be a more representative term?  

 

Group of cyclists pit themselves against each other to reach a destination in the quickest time possible.  Sounds like a race to me?

How about something that is more descriptive of the format (checkpoints, brevet cards, unsupported) maybe Randonneuring Against Clock across Europe (or R.A.C.E. for short)?

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