And we have a wrap. Tonight, the curtain came down on the inaugural Two Volcano Sprint.
Out of the 16 starters, barely a third of the field managed to cover the 1,100km course from Mt. Vesuvio to Mt. Etna in time for tonight’s finishing party. This route, so much for being ‘short’ by ultra-distance standards, has proved to be incredibly attritional. Come the finish line, the winner Ulrich Bartholmoes was describing 2VS as harder than both the Transiberica and the Transpyrenees.
Arriving in the afternoon to take 6th position was Rob Gardiner. The weather in Sicily today has been grim, wet and cold but he at least was lucky enough to climb and descend Mt. Etna in a kind of grey, semi-daylight.
The pairs team of Michele Petrone and Sergio Punzi were not so lucky. By the time they had scaled Mt. Etna late in the afternoon, night was falling fast. Their final run in to Nicolosi was made in the freezing dark and wet - surely the most harsh and challenging descent of Etna made by any of the riders in this year’s race.
Tonight might well be the finisher’s party, but we should spare a thought also for those rider’s who didn’t quite make it to Nicolosi in time this year. Right this minute, Colin Addison in holed up in a small town on Sicily’s northern shore. Tomorrow, he’ll set off to complete the course. Many other riders have not made it as far as that - but all of them have been part of the story of this race.