Wyss wins the RAAM after an epic battle across America
Two front men just metres apart after 2,900 miles
Swiss rider Dani Wyss has won the 2009 Race Across America (RAAM) with the second quickest time in RAAM history: 8 days, 5 hours and 45 minutes. Favourite Jure Robic withdrew from the race after the two riders had been neck and neck, handing the victory to Wyss.
It was Robic who made the early running, but Wyss was never far behind, and incredibly after 2,900 miles of racing Wyss was in the lead but the two riders were only five minutes apart on the tarmac, effectively turning an eight day marathon into a 100-mile time trial for victory. However, by that time Robic had accrued an hour in time penalties through three separate incidents, and the rules of RAAM state that the rider has to serve those penalties at Time Station 51, two stations before the finish. Four-time champion Robic elected to pull out at that point rather than stop and race the final section, and Wyss went on to complete the course. Robic still has until the cut-off point on monday to finish, but right now it looks unlikely that he'll cross the line.
Above: Dani Wyss
The RAAM Solo blog (http://www.raceacrossamerica.org/blog/blogs/blog2.php) makes for interesting reading when it describes the physical state of the two leading riders in the final stages. At one point, we read that "Jure Robic looks like a prizefighter who stands in the corner against the ropes, unable to do more than offer the lengths of his arms in defense. He wants to go on; he doesn’t know how to quit. His eyes are barely open and you wonder how much he can see. He does not talk to us. He does not smile or acknowledge us." Sounds like a whole lot of fun...
What of our British soloists? Well first off, chapeau to Ann Woolridge, the only female soloist in the 50+ category in the race, who's still out on the road despite ending up in hospital after a spill and taking 18 hours off the bike. Her husband, who's part of the support crew, gave this account:
“We got to a crest of a hill on a series of rollers where they had just re-cut the rumble strip. Over the crest was a huge pile of gravel. She tried to get around it to the left, hit the rumble strip with her front wheel which pushed her back into the gravel and onto the grass. There was a big drainage ditch in the grass and she tumbled into that head over heels. She took a battering; bruise on the head, cut nose, a few abrasions but no bleeding as such. We went to hospital and had her checked out. We’ve taken 18 hours off to make sure she’s okay”
After the accident Woolridge had to race to make up time and reach TS34 by 5am to avoid disqualification. Despite missing the cut off by four minutes she was granted a pass and and she then averaged 12.36mph over the next four time stations to pull away from the time limit. She's still going and the RAAM site estimates her arrival in Annapolis at half past nine on Monday.
Jim Rees of Team Inspiration was looking to set a new British record (currently 8 days 17 hours) for the RAAM but sadly those dreams look to have been dashed. He passed TS41 at 6:43 this morning more than eight days into his ride, and still with 560 miles to go; current estimates are for a sunday morning arrival. About five hours behind him on the road Richard Newey is still going too, and midday on Sunday is his current ETA at the finish.