It was a happy atmosphere on the main square of Kraliky. This and the warm temperatures, that aren’t really always true for the Bikechallenge, made for a great day. Soon Skovgaard and the BMC boys Horák and Vokrouhlík went and kept a high tempo. And knowing that the rest of the peloton isn’t really up to the task, the remainder surrendered in the early part of the race. Three main groups led up to the first longish uphills. Horák and Vokrouhlík hoped to their cards and jointly drop Skovgaard. The Danish of HMTBK SRAM seemed to fire on all cylinders and didn’t even give a notion that he is willing to team up. The hardest part of the stage was a lonely affair for him. At the end his advantage was remarkable again: 03:49:35.4 , that’s more than 10 min on BMC-SAVO racing team, Horák and Vokrouhlík.
A jaw dropping performance on the mixed category side. The Danish pair puts up a big show with their performance : Rikke Kornvig and Lasse Brun Pedersen are putting down the hammer and keep their high place in the GC.
The Bikechallenge shows a new, alpine like facet. Rather longish uphill’s, whereby the surface is pretty rock-littered. That’s works for me big time, and in so doing I was able to up the ante and ended up higher in GC. The cold is almost fixed now, and I am about to enjoy myself. I trust I can keep this position and, again, to continue like this would be huge bonus.
The 3rd leg of the Challenge is in the bag and as announced, it fully lived up to its dreaded status, being the most feared one. I don’t think one has to be afraid of any race. After all it’s just a bike race and there is no must, hence if you don’t feel like being in physical or mental state you just let it go and don’t start or quit in the process.
Erik Skovgaard Knudsen cemented his position in the GC by clocking up another stage victory. He made this affair pretty straight and with no fuss by surging from the start away and not anybody to take away even one single victory. To demonstart his strength the second place Sebastian Szraucner from Germany lost out 23min.
In the mixed category the HMTBK SRAM Danish pair Lasse Brun Pedersen and Rikke Kornvig paved their way to the final victory even more.
In the team category pair BMC-SAVO racing team [CZE] with Martin Horák, Tomáš Vokrouhlík solidified their GC ranking too. So, they don’t seemed to be jeopardized by any other team.
It is remarkable for these Polish stages, every time there is a so called borderline parcours you better prepare for interrupted riding, where no rhythm can be found. The figures are rather benign, that is 60km, sounds like a walk in the park. And it was indeed a walk for the most. We must be blessed having had dry conditions. Thus we reckoned an average speed of 13kmp/h. The track-designer, the notoriously known Vena Hornych himself must have been full of evil thoughts while fabricating it. It was once more meant to be something outstanding, a race of attrition. However, not the one where rivals eliminate each other, by way of race intensity. It was the nature of the path that made the ‘massacre’ and had us negotiate with it the hardest way.
Knowing that, I just put myself artificially into the positive mindset and anticipated an enjoyable ride. In fact it wasn’t. Minus those transition sections outside of the frontier area. That said, it’s been an invaluable experience that felt like 100km in a mundane marathon.
Clearly, the top contenders controlled the race from the beginning, though, to my astonishment a bit moderately. It was partly due to the announced obstacles, however partially of looming fatigue and diminishing freshness of all…
I meant to find 1-2 riders that I picked up in the previous stages and that featured decent technical abilities. The race categorically began once we hit the narrowest hiking track along the Czech-Polish border. The sledge-hammer ride started and didn’t break until the very end. Admittedly, we were treated with some feed-zone jeep-road transitions, just to take a breather.
I guess, the most complete rider won. Mentally one ought to be flexible and reframe all along. I just too often came across riders that were about to lose their temper. I’m just happy having concluded it without losing my morale and my positive attitude. All the more so after making some ground in the general classement. But most of all, the mending period is over, and I feel fit again. Sure, the damage is done [the race was started with influenza; hence I wasn’t able to fire on all cylinders], but how cool is that I can move on and enjoy racing.
The parcours for tomorrow pledges to be more ‘courteous’ and yielding, that being said, I wouldn’t mind if we kept the relentless course.