It was an epic start to the 2012 Mongolia Bike Challenge presented by Orbea as the skies opened and the downpour began. A front group quickly formed, keeping their exposure as they headed into the Mongolian countryside on what quickly became muddy double track.
Team Kona looked strong from the start with Barry Wicks, Kris Sneddon, and last year´s runner-up, Cory Wallace, included in the lead group. Carter Hovey of Team MBC Racing powered by Orbea-SMP and Paul Zamora of Team Buff International were part of this group with Marcel Hagener of Chiru-WTB also in the mix. The two Mongolian National Team riders, Altansuk Altanzhul and Tuguldur ¨Tugu¨ Tuulkhangai (runner-up 2010) also looked very strong from the beginning.
By the second rest stop at 65 kilometers the group had separated with Team Kona and Zamora opening at two minute gap. In a sprint finish, it was Cory Wallace first, followed by teammate Kris Sneddon and then Zamora. Wicks finished a strong forth, followed by Hovey and Tugu. Racers are now clean and rested, getting used to camp life, and hoping for sunnier skies in the stages ahead.