72 hours in and the two lead teams have been having a personal battle the last 12 hours. In an unrelenting assault on each other the French team Naturex continues to hold a narrow lead over fellow countryman Team FMR. We will expand on this face to face confrontation a bit later.
Estonian ACE Adventure have dropped back off the lead two teams, however they are now feeling pressure from Czech team BlackHILL / OpavaNET who have been lurking behind them for a day and now catching up. The Estonians though have a 4 hour penalty. I’m assuming the Czech team have got wind of this and will continue to push themselves to take a podium. The Czech’s do have a big worry behind them in the form of VK Bikes. They are the highest place local team and have been the quiet achievers. Pushing ahead solidly, minimising mistakes and digging deep. The “darkhorse team” VK Bikes have now shown themselves and I can’t wait to see what they can do over the final stages. A podium maybe if they get lucky?
“DAY 3 complete. Hard day with a long MTB that leads from Ortigueira until Narón and two treks in the middle. Our team gets touched by the harshness of the route with the cold and the rain. Despite that they manage to be strong and rise. Strength!!!!” – VK Bikes Media Support.
Further down the field we have many other duels going on and one notable abandonment – the Finish team Omjakon. This team were looking very good the past 24 hours and were also pushing toward the front three. It must be a great disappointment for them but they have shown their class.
Racing side by side are South Africans Cyanosis Adventure Racing and 27 USWE Adventure Team – a team fusion between two multisport teams with all members living in Norway. Jacob and Helen Westerberg have Swedish passports and Wolfgang Kampel and Felix Breitschädel are from Austria. They are then followed by another pack and the remainder of the field. Get on the live tracking though to see it for yourself.
The conditions have continued to be overcast and slightly damp. Whilst not freezing the weather is starting to make its presence on the field and starting to make it tough for them. Hopefully some sun will pop out today to greet them and give them some warmth.
But back to the battle for line honours. As if two teams in a boxing ring the lead two teams have been head to head the last 12 hours. At 2days 16 hrs the teams were within 30 m of each and must have stared into each other’s eyes. Surprisingly both teams then took different routes south trying to gain the advantage. Obviously having great confidence in themselves. Only one hour later they passed each other at CP 49. Naturex heading south (in the lead) and FMR heading north to the CP only 500 metres lead at most. Naturex would have then known they had maintained their advantage. If the route was clear cut you would see both teams simply race side to side however this area has a myriad of routes options and both teams looking to outnavigate each other.
Again one hour later Naturex started making crop circles on the tracker. A small hiccup – bad luck or pressure? They again past within metres of each other. Naturex then found the fast track out of there and got another small jump on FMR. What must be going through their heads then!
A further 2 hours and FMR caught Naturex at the transition to the kayak. Naturex were in their kayaks and gone at breakneck speed. They want the win and are doing everything they can. But FMR will not go away. The kayak stage is 25klm and again the teams passed each other on a small backtrack section in this leg. This time Naturex a little further ahead but still only a kilometer or so in it. Enthralling stuff.
With only a Stage 13 – Trekking 23 KMS and Stage 14 – MTB 47 KMS to the line what will happen is anyone’s guess. Just sensational grit by these two teams and within the following teams each measuring up to give it everything.
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