Strategic Lions have finished third in the eight-man category in the Race Across America, completing the coast-to-coast race in a time of 5 days 13 hours and 25 minutes. The Yorkshire-based team had gone into the race with hopes of beating the record they missed out on by 11 minutes last year, but headwinds all the way, temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit and strong US opposition put paid to those plans.
Nevertheless, it was a remarkable performance from the eight-man squad that combined elite athletes with relatively novice cyclists, covering the 2,987 miles from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland, at an average speed of 22.39 miles an hour.
Team Via Sat completed the race in a time of 5 days 5 hours and 5 minutes, while another US team, 4 Mil, who had appeared to be in danger of being caught by Strategic Lions as the race headed towards the Atlantic cushion, came home a shade under four and a half hours ahead of the British outfit.
While preparing for this year’s race, during which they were raising money for the charity Help for Heroes, Strategic Lions used their experience of the 2011 RAAM to help mentor another British team taking part in the event made up of servicemen who had been injured in training or wounded on operations.
Four members of that squad, Team Battle Back, are double amputees who are participating in the race on handbikes and currently they are around 2,500 miles into their journey, having passed 43 of the 54 checkpoints at an average speed of 17.38 miles an hour.
The men’s solo race, meanwhile, was won last night by Reto Schoch from Switzerland, who finished in a time of 8 days 6 hours and 39 minutes from defending champion Christoph Strasser, who was 3 hours 5 minutes slower. Fellow Austrian Gerhard Gulewicz is on course to complete the podium.
Remarkably, in 12 of the last 13 editions, the winner has come from one of four Alpine countries in central Europe – besides Switzerland and Austria, Slovenia produced the greatest RAAM rider of all time, the late Jure Robič who won the race five times between 2004 and 2010, while Liechtenstein’s Andrea Clavadetscher was victorious in 2001.
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.