Fact file

Location:
Bilbao, Spain
Start Date:
Sunday, September 1, 2019 8:00 PM
Length:
3500km
Riders:
31
Terrain:
Road
DSC09496 copy

Race Preview

After its inaugural edition last year, TransIbérica once again rolls out of Bilbao with 31 riders on the list eagerly awaiting an adventure like no other they've taken on before.

From the same organisers that brought you the TransPyrenees earlier this year, TransIbérica is a true test of endurance through some of the most trying checkpoints located in Spain, France and Portugal.

ONES TO WATCH

Ulrich Bartolmös recently won the TransPyrenees race and has been busy training on similar terrain to that which he will race through in just a few days' time.

With a truly international field (riders from everywhere between Brazil and Finland), it's hard to know whose race it might be and it'll be interesting to see how the German pair of Sandra Rosgalla and Stefan Slegl get on.

THE CHECKPOINTS

Information about each of the checkpoints can be found here but some particular highlights include:

  • CP2: Javalambre Peak - the riders can take some shortcuts for the descent but with hard gravel.
  • CP4: Pico del Veleta - it's always an amazing moment watching riders climb the 3394m peak, but some of the riders have announced that they will climb it from the south side. It's shorter coming from CP3, but there is more than 30km of gravel probably with some snowfields.
  • From CP5, the Andalusian village of Ronda, to CP6 in Albufeira, PT, the logical way is crossing the Spanish/Portuguese border by ferry but this ferry doesn't run at night, so they have to plan their time accordingly.

Coverage begins on Sunday 1st September so keep checking back for updates on how the race will be won.

All in half a day’s work

https://www.instagram.com/p/B15lX_xo9QC/

IN THE BEGINNING

It wouldn't be an ultra-endurance race without a challenge from the off and this time it was rain. In the Basque Country, they call it xirimiri (pronounced shirimiri) and it's the kind of fine rain or drizzle that soaks you to the bone.

Needless to say, rain didn't stop play and the riders had to get on with it as soon as the flag dropped at 22:00 local time in Bilbao.

BONSOIR FRANCE

Screenshot 2019-09-02 at 09.37.41

CP1 is the Col de la Pierre St Martin, the highest paved mountain pass in the Basque Pyrenees that tops out at 1766m above sea level. The mandatory parcour takes riders from the French village of Arette up a 26km climb with an elevation gain of 1440m (that's an average of 6% for those playing at home).

Given there's a rather large mountain range sitting on the border of Spain and France, it's no surprise the dots immediately went their separate ways. It looks like the favoured road was the D936 into Arette, though some others have taken a more direct but possibly hillier route on the D918.

ULRICH LEADING THE CHASE

Ulrich 1

📷 Carlos Mazon

TransPyrenees winner, Ulrich Bartolmös, launched his lead early on and reached CP1 at 09:26 this morning. He looks to have a 40-50km lead from his nearest rival, Kim Heikkinen.

The two Finns have now begun their ascent of the parcours to CP1 and not far behind them are Portuguese rider André Alvis and US rider Brian Mitchell.

It's early days and anything can happen, especially in the mountains. Check back later to see how the day unfolds.

A busy day at the border

CP1: Col de la Pierre St Martin

With the majority of riders through CP1, you'd think it'd been a fairly easy day for them. You'd be wrong. The tough weather conditions have challenged everyone up the mandatory parcours with no views with which to be rewarded.

Fog 1

Fog 2

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Second placed, Sami, had a cheer squad awaiting his arrival at CP1 (above).

Everyone's favourite ultra-endurance personality, Hippy, has maintained his sense of humour so far despite an early lapse up the climb.

Hippy 1

And it turns out, the descent was worth it.

https://twitter.com/firsthippy/status/1168572178872356869

The only pairs riders, Sandra and Stefan, are making great progress and working well together.

Pairs 1

Leader of the pack

Ulrich Bartolmös has strengthened his lead today extending it to around 100km at the time of writing. We mentioned earlier the poor weather but this doesn't appear to have slowed down Ulrich who is wearing only shorts while other riders are reaching for insulating layers as the temperatures drop at altitude.

Ulrich 2

What's next?

CP2 is ~100km as the crow flies for Ulrich. The Pico Javalambre is a bare summit with nothing more than pines and rocky outcrops to greet riders. The only buildings are communication towers and to get there, they will need to put some gravel under their tyres. How the conditions will be once riders are there is anyone's guess but the forecast is promising thunderstorms and heavy rain during Monday night.

Will Ulrich make it to the top and back down with nothing more than his summer kit? Will the other riders catch up to him and challenge his lead? All will be revealed in the morning as we stay glued to the tracker.

Cue day two

TYRE TROUBLES

The first few major mechanicals were unleashed on a couple of unlucky riders overnight. First up was Wilson Cesar who blew a sidewall in his brand new tyre. He was stopped for a long time trying to fix it before getting a new tyre at the foot of CP1 in Arette. Thankfully, he still managed to find a smile up the parcours.

Wilson Cesar Tyre

Wilson Cesar 1

Hippy's trials and tribulations continued as he was victim to a rock. He managed to ding his rim and had to boot the tyre to keep rolling overnight. Based on the tracker, he seems to be well on his way thanks to the help of the Spanish general public.

https://twitter.com/firsthippy/status/1168740973628858369

UP THE ROAD

Ulrich is still the lone dot at the front of the race. He's now well beyond CP2 and still donning his summer kit. It was a cool 11ºC whilst he channelled his best gravel riding skills.

Ulrich 3

It's a big stretch between CP2 and CP3 with hills at either end. Last year's edition of the race brought heat and wind into the mix so we're fully expecting similar conditions to test riders this year.

Homing in on CP2

PICO DE JAVALAMBRE

Towering above the riders in the region of Aragon is CP2 and with it comes a world of adventure.

There is no mandatory parcours for this checkpoint but while there is a perfectly good paved road to the top, the terrain of choice for most riders has so far been gravel as we saw earlier with Ulrich.

Pico Javalambre 3

Pico Javalambre 2

THE RACE FOR SECOND

Sami, Brian and Bruno are all within 10km of each other, so second place is anyone's for now.

Bruno 1

Bruno looking cool, calm and collected on his way to CP3.

CROSS WINDS FOR ULRICH

At the front of the race, it's been quite a day for Ulrich as he battled wind and heat as predicted by the race organisers, David and Carlos.

Ulrich 4

It looks like Ulrich will pass CP3, Cabo de Gata, and possibly the highest of all the checkpoints, CP4, Pico Veleta. Will he sleep or press on?

All change

LEADERBOARD SCRAMBLE

You may have noticed the leaderboard has changed fairly dramatically every day so far (save for Ulrich's position, obviously!). It's interesting to see second place be so hotly contested with no clear advantage to any rider. At first the Finns looked to be strong enough to pull away from the main bunch but they've since slid down to midway and it's now the American, Brian Mitchell, forging on. Hot on his tail are the other riders with around 40km between second and eighth places.

Screenshot 2019-09-04 at 09.06.46

CABO DE GATA

Leader Ulrich Bartholmös reached the top of CP3: Cabo de Gata at around 09:00. He reached CP2 12 hours ahead of the then second placed Bruno so we're not expecting the other riders to reach Europe's only hot desert before nightfall this evening. The 10km gravel mandatory parcours is sure to bring some action for dotwatchers and we look forward to seeing it all play out.

Starry night 1

In the meantime, make sure you familiarise yourself with Pico Veleta, Europe's highest paved road and the fourth checkpoint on this incredible adventure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFJ_1-HPcYo

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