Pippa Handley from Edinburgh became the first woman to cross the finish line in this year's TransContinental Race when she reached Istanbul yesterday afternoon, 12 days 5 hours and 44 minutes after leaving London.
She was followed just under five hours later by Gaby Leveridge of Cookham, Berkshire, who has the unusual distinction of being the first woman to come second in the TransContinental as only one woman, Juliana Buhring, rode in 2013. Vasiliki Voutzali is currently 60km from the finish and expected to take third place sometime this afternoon.
Here's Handley looking tired but very pleased as she hands in her brevet card:
— The Transcontinental (@transconrace) August 21, 2014
Handley was the 14th rider to cross the finish line, a feat comparable to Buhring's 2013 9th place finish in a much smaller field. Final rider distances have not yet been announced (the SPOT tracker distances on the TransContinental site are far from definitive) but it looks like Handley's average speed was significantly higher thah Buhring's.
Leveridge led Handley at one stage of the race, after pulling ahead by taking a ferry across the Adriatic instead of taking an overland route. But that bit of tactical nous wasn't enough to beat Handley's sheer grit.
In one of those bits of bizareness that have typified the TransContinental, Handley completed the race with just one sock after the other was stolen by a dog. On her run into Istanbul she tweeted:
Turkish kid in petrol station asked me in perfect English 'why only one sock?'..i said a dog stole it. His answer'did he not need the pair?'
— Pippa Handley (@pipster_h) August 20, 2014
As of this morning a total of 23 riders have completed the TransContinental. Last year 20 of the 31 starters reached Istanbul.
Here's the finish list so far:
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.