If the favorite of the race justifies his abandon because the race proved to be way too tough for him, than that speaks volumes for the harshness of the Trophy. His whole team follow suit too. According to his statement, after stage 2, he was not just willing to ‘take the beating’ and didn’t line up this past morning for the 3rd stage.
If he knew what had awaited him on the parcours today then his choice had proved to be even more prudent. The first couple of km had us drop the chain on the ‘granny’ way up on the steep concrete-grassy slopes. Peeters and Rood, the two Dutch are gone but the following group consisting of the Polish Banach, Piasecki and the Czech Strnad had dogged them until the first brutal rock littered downhill, that stood there like a headsman. The very same scenario: only the most accomplished riders hit the gas fully in the hope to gain valuable seconds. The remainder just blocked the path, more or less, and it’s been a melee as there was barely any chance to pass [given the ravine traversing the track]. That caused a bottleneck. This was followed by relentless step-style drops, making the handlebar a bobbing jackhammer.
Hitting the valley, the roadside was rife with riders putting new tubes into the deflated tires. Not that they were running tubes, but it’s the epidemic sidewall cuts that made next-to all XC tires dead. The Beskidy rocks aren’t that big. They are razor sharp and rather smallish. Hence, it’s a tricky slalom work one has to apply. In case you want to let it run brake-free you ought to put on decent enduro tyres, durable enough to withstand the beating.
The rain was setting in too, so the surface was like a soap covered floor. This made the tyre option so critical. It seems I have opted for the wrong pair, which had me losing out time again.
The day saw me losing all my hopes for a GC . My rim took a small dent; hence my tubeless kit was helpless to keep the air. Much to my regret I hadn’t any spare tube with me anymore, and so had to push about 5km to the next aid station. Approx. 1 hour lost through this mishap, consequently I just finished it off.
Peters took first, followed by Rood in 2 sec. distance, and Banach for third, keeping the Polish podium hopes alive. These riders make up the GC as well, and a change of positions is not really probable for the last conclusive stage. The weather factor may reshuffle things, though as the forecast calls for all day drizzling and pouring rain. Also, those that kept some extra fuel in their tank might as well attack and move up.