Day 12 / Massaging out the Miles

August 5, 2023

The top 10 riders of the first Green Leaderboard have crossed the line in Thessaloniki, and the final push for the rest of the aspiring General Classification (GC) finishers is well underway.

The Green Leaderboard is a new initiative by Lost Dot to encourage and reward those who choose to travel to and from our races without flying. It compliments the Low-Carbon Travel Fund, which provides financial support to 10 riders to travel overland to and from the Race.

Yesterday, in the hot Thessaloniki sun, Mark Kowalski (244) became the 10th rider on the Green Leaderboard to cross the Finish line, finishing 32nd in GC. Mark, who works in renewables, rode a strong race, but was beset with punctures which saw him slip down the rankings. Regardless, he met every kilometre with good humour, and admitted he even shed tears of joy as he saw Mount Olympus on the horizon en route to the Finish.

Speaking at a bustling Finish yesterday on the promenade of Thessaloniki, Mark reflected on his experience:

“I can’t believe I have come in the position I have with all the problems along the way. I am quite proud, I guess. I need to come back next year and come top 20! I am ecstatic … It’s the pay-off of a lot of investment and time.” Mark Kowalski (244)

Reflecting on his position in the Green Leaderboard, Mark said he was “proud” to have been part of a race taking our impact on the environment seriously:

“I thought it was amazing that the Transcontinental came up with this initiative … It doesn’t solve everything, but it is a step in the right direction, and it will open doors to other ideas. I hope other races look at this and they will pick up an idea, giving it momentum into other sports and disciplines.” Mark Kowalski (244)

The impact of environmental change means the landscapes which make the Transcontinental so special are at risk, as well as the wildlife which call those landscapes home. As the riders arrived at the Finish yesterday, extreme rainfall fell in northern Slovenia, damaging homes and claiming several lives in an area riders passed through just days before. Sustainability forms one of the core pillars of Lost Dot’s social mission, and in its essence is a vital part of ensuring we can keep responsibly running the Races we do in a liveable world. The Green Leaderboard and the Low-Carbon Travel Fund are a part of that conversation.

Throughout the day, riders continued to trickle into the final Control Point to receive their final brevet card stamp. With the temperatures close to 40C, and a masseuse on hand to ease out tired legs, it was unsurprising to see many dozing off under the canopy by the Thessaloniki Sailing Club, including fastest woman Jaimi Wilson (004)

One rider to finish early today was third-fastest woman Joanna Ruminska-Pietrzyk (099). Speaking to us earlier in the Race, Joanna expressed her excitement to reach Albania and seemed unphased by the infamous third Parcours. All changed by the Finish, however:

“I said to you earlier I was not too phased by the third Parcours. I was very wrong. That was the tipping point in the Race, where one race ended and another one started.” Joanna Ruminska-Pietrzyk (099)

Thessaloniki’s Son

This morning, Ioannis Papanikolaou (182) crossed the finish line, the first Greek to do so. As a son of Thessaloniki, Ioannis had a raucous group of supporters at the Finish to cheer him in, finishing in 12 Days, 11 Hours, and 49 Minutes.

Amongst the group awaiting his arrival were delegates from the Hellenic Cycling Federation, who had travelled from Athens to watch Ioannis finish his 4000km journey from Geraardsbergen to home. Thanos Georgiou, representing the Hellenic Cycling Federation, said he was proud to see his friend, colleague and countryman finish in style on the shores of the Aegean Sea.

“Ioannis is a marvellous cyclist with a lot of medals in his career … We are very happy to see him finish and to host the TCR. We want to show people another side of cycling, as well as how to bring cities into a new era by making themselves greener by supporting cycling.” – Thanos Georgiou, Hellenic Cycling Fedaration

Just in the Mikko-f Time

Mikko Mäkipää (044) is the source of intrigue for many of the dot-watchers glued to their screens at home. Finishing in GC in each of the eight Transcontinental Races he has entered, Mikko’s ninth GC finish looked at risk last night.

At 21.00CEST last night, Mikko was yet to reach Ioannina, meaning he had 170km and over 4000m of climbing to cover to reach CP4 by 12.00CEST. After a nail-biting night traversing the mountain between Parcours 4A and 4B, Mikko defied the odds to arrive in CP4 in Meteora at 11.03CEST, completing a monumental effort in the process.

The Finnish rider is renowned for his creative route choices, seemingly unphased by time cuts until he storms through Control Points to ensure he remains in the Race. Thus far, he has ridden over 3600km, compared with his nearest rivals’ 3300km.

Mikko made it through CP4, along with many others who felt the relief of making the time cut. 130 riders have now received their penultimate brevet card stamp and are making their final push towards the finish line ahead of the last cut-off at 23.59CEST on 7th August – and the all-important Finisher’s Party. Behind them, riders will continue to make their way towards Thessaloniki. Despite missing the time cut for CP4, they can still be recognised as finishers for their amazing achievement.

Photos: Saskia Martin, Liz Seabrook, Tomás Montes, and Tom Gibbs

Words: Ross Brannigan


Scratch Report

016 - Sébastien Warègne
159 - Sarah Harris
163 - Leguay Laurent
188 - Johannes Zapotoczky
273 - Iida Pauliina Rahikainen
281 - Simon Larsson
286 - David McNamara
298 - Sanne Kleijne
323 - Reeta Nykanen
331a - Lieven Gorinsek
337a - Dr. Sarah Ruggins
337b - John Sowler

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