The chasing pack has seen a major reshuffle since CP3. Kim Raeymakeers and Pierre Arnaud Le Magnan had been comfortably exchanging second and third positions between them since the start of the race. However both took extended stays at CP3 in order to recover and recharge for the final push to the finish. Meanwhile Levente Bagoly arrived at the checkpoint, had his brevet card stamped and made a dash for it. This daring move has paid off for now with him leapfrogging into second position and gaining a substantial gap.
It’s not all been plain sailing for him though. He had to ask a group of travelling motor cyclists for some chain oil as he had totally run out. The extreme heat and dust combined with sections of mud and rain is playing havoc with drive chains and Levente had run out of chain lube as a result. From the images beaming out of Kyrgyzstan it also looks as though he may also be suffering with Sherman’s neck, the unfortunate ailment where the neck muscles are exhausted and are no longer able to support the head. Although not particularly painful it is not conducive to efficient pedalling as its very hard to look forwards and can cause distress in other parts of the body as it tries to compensate for the imbalance.
Over half the field has now scratched, although some have missed checkpoint cut-offs and have taken route shortcuts to keep within the race bubble. It’s even hard to scratch in this race, most riders will now be at a point where getting a lift back to Bishkek is extremely hard so riding out is the only option.
Russell Stout unfortunately had to scratch early in the race due to a bike mechanical, however he has now ridden back out onto the route to ride a shortened version. His video posted on the Shand Cycles Instagram page illustrates the vastness of the terrain that the riders are tacking on this mind blowing race.