Day 13 / Pushing for a Party

August 6, 2023

Seventy-three riders have now completed their journey from Geraardsbergen to Thessaloniki, with around 50 others still on the road hoping to complete the Race before the final cut-off time of 23.59CEST tomorrow.

Overnight, heavy thunderstorms have meant some riders on the Finish Parcours have been forced to seek shelter, resulting in a large gap in finishers in the early hours of this morning. One of those riders was Jesko von Werthern (249), a popular name in the community.

Jesko finished Transcontinental within the General Classification (GC) cut-off last year for the first time, and looks set to repeat the feat this year. Posting on Instagram last night, Jesko said the thunderous downpours forced him off the Parcours to find shelter in a nearby chapel. We expect to see him, and a further 20-plus riders, arrive at the Finish today.

With the sun setting on the Aegean Sea yesterday, the women of the Transcontinental Race gathered outside the Thessaloniki Sailing Club to welcome Nicky Shaw (142) to the Finish. After a challenging final day with a crash on the Finish Parcours, Nicky still managed to showcase some incredible descending skills through the ancient streets of Thessaloniki.

Arriving to a small crowd cheering her in, emotions bubbled to the surface as the woman from Yorkshire added a Transcontinental finish to her palmares, after scratching in TCRNo5 and volunteering in TCRNo4. Embracing friends at the Finish, Nicky – who has finished as first woman in All Points North and Further East – is a popular figure in the ultra-cycling community. Taking a dip in the fountain, she said it was the “most refreshed” she’d felt in many days and was relieved to close this chapter in her cycling journey.

During the day, Bruno Wicht (063) crossed the Finish in 12 days, 11 hours, and 50 minutes. After a strong performance earlier in the Race, Bruno suffered knee issues that meant he needed to back off on his pace. Nevertheless, Bruno was the quickest rider between CP4 and CP5, reaching the Finish 23 hours and 56 minutes after leaving Meteora – almost seven hours faster than winner Christoph Strasser (001)

Riding Solo

Finishing this morning in Thessaloniki, Teresa Shiflett (339b) of Colorado rode half the Race as a pair before going solo after her teammate, Paul Toigo (339a), had to scratch due to mechanical issues.

Teresa crossed the line as one of the liveliest and excited riders to finish thus far, ecstatic at her ability to finish on her own, describing it as an “empowering experience” – especially so given her zero puncture rate throughout the whole Race:

“It is pretty spectacular. It’s hard to wrap my head around how far it was. Every day was just about focusing on what was going on that day – picking out places to drink an espresso every day… The Control Points were amazing; the volunteers were awesome, it was so good to see other riders at the CPs, too. I am just really excited to have finished.” Teresa Shiflett (339b)

Due to her partner scratching mid-race, Teresa will be marked as a finisher outside of General Classification, but that should not take away from her incredible achievement. Speaking about Teresa’s success, Paul – a TCR veteran – described it as “fantastic”:

“Every time her tracker lost service I just had kittens, because I swore to protect her … As long as the dot was moving, it was exciting! It’s one of the biggest thrills of my life [to see her finish], though, I am a little jealous, of course.” Paul Toigo (339a)

The Long Way Round

Thomas Jacquelinet (168) is a name many will recognise from previous Lost Dot races, with his win in the first edition of the Trans Pyrenees Race and a previous showing at the Transcontinental. Thomas was, for a time, putting Mikko Mäkipää’s (44) adventurous route choices to shame, with several re-routes to reach Control Points and a huge deviation via Serbia to reach CP3.

Reaching the finish overnight, Thomas racked up an unparalleled 4600km in his journey to the Finish in Thessaloniki, almost 1000km further than many of his counterparts. His race was also punctuated with several mechanical issues and border problems. Dot-watchers looked on with curiosity as his dot bounced around at the Serbian border, which transpired to be banned to cyclists. Speaking at the Finish, Thomas admitted his route could have been better researched but, given he planned it the day the Race started, it is a wonder he did not have more problems.

Asked why he chose the route he did, Thomas said it was in pursuit of adventure, having raced a number of the roads in Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania in TCRNo6. Reflecting on his race overall, Thomas takes solace in his performance:

“I am satisfied with how my Race went. My legs felt great, but I don’t do so well with sleep deprivation. I don’t think I would have done a lot better, the guys at the front were going so fast. The level is high and gets higher every year. I love the mountains, though, and with the legs feeling as good as they are, I will probably look to races like that on the tarmac and focus on minimising my overall stoppage time.” Thomas Jacquelinet (168)

Thomas plans to race this year’s Trans Pyrenees Race, and we look forward to seeing how he fares.

The final cut-off time is now on the horizon, landing at 23.59CEST tomorrow. Looking at the dots, those north of Katerini are the ones who will be pushing to make it in time – including Mikko Mäkipää. Will he pull another rabbit out of the hat to reach the CP in time? Will he push through the night? The final push of TCRNo9 is on…

Photos: Saskia Martin, Liz Seabrook, and Tomás Montes

Words: Ross Brannigan


Scratch Report

059 - Millie Gibbons
144 - Lionel Bobb
156 - Georg Molz
258 - Dave O’Brien
294 - Martin Koch
312 - Sergey Shulubin
336a - Brent Olson
336b - Connie May Etter

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