Day 15 / One Story Ends, Another Begins

August 8, 2023

Ten years since 21 riders rolled into Istanbul after completing the first Transcontinental Race, glasses were raised last night to toast the 125 finishers of TCRNo9, after cycling 4000km from Geraardsbergen to Thessaoliniki.

In a year which saw epic duels across Alpine passes, dreams made and broken on cracked Albanian roads, and success found on the Aegean coast, TCRNo9 will be remembered for years to come as one of the most thrilling editions to date.

Gathering as the sun sank into the Aegean Sea, the finishers of TCRNo9 shared their stories and recognised the incredible feats of their fellow riders at the famous Finishers Party, and awaited the arrival of the last rider in General Classification.

Standing above the crowd of riders in a bizarre pastiche of cycling gear and holiday clothing, Race Director Andrew Phillips congratulated them all on their achievement and thanked them for “leaving everything out on the road”.

“It is a privilege to put on this Race, see you all give it absolutely everything, see you suffer, see you go through highs and lows, see you explore the whole continent, and see you find strength you didn’t know you had. That is what the Race is all about. Thank you all for coming to do that and showing us all what you’re made of.” Andrew Phillips, Race Director

As part of the Finishers Party, several Spirit of the Race awards are presented to exemplary riders who have ridden true to the spirit of self-reliance and equal opportunities, and who have raced with good grace and humour throughout.

Special mentions were made of fastest woman Jaimi Wilson (004); wordsmith Jesko von Werthern (249); fashionista Dries van der Kleij (131); persevering Patrick Doupe (26), David Tschan (050) and Marc Büchel (316); route pioneers Mikko Mäkipää (44) and Thomas Jacquelinet (168); bear-spotter Marei Moldenhauer (191); and swift-footed Bruno Wicht (63) for the fastest time between CP4 and the Finish.

Strap Up for Round Three

Christoph Strasser (001) rode an indomitable Race in TCRNo9, adding a second Transcontinental win to his already long list of ultra-distance achievements. Throughout the Race, Christoph rode true to the spirit of self-reliance and equal opportunities, and has shown himself to be capable as an unsupported athlete, in addition to his history in supported racing.

Congratulating Christoph for his second consecutive win, Andrew Phillips said, “Not only is he a phenomenal athlete, but he is a great ambassador for the sport. He holds himself to such a high standard, and I have great respect for that … We could not ask for a better winner.”

Reflecting on his race, Christoph paid homage to the organisers, his fellow competitors, and particularly his main antagonist, Robin Gemperle (003), who, for much of the Race, he was unable to shake off, as the two tore across the continent.

With Robin already suggesting he would be back to try for a win next year, Christoph said he would be motivated to return and potentially become the first rider to win three consecutive Transcontinental Races in a row:

“I can imagine I will be back. Maybe we will see other strong riders beyond me and Robin. After two successful races, there is no reason for me to stop and, if strong people are here, I am very motivated to return.” Christoph Strasser (001)

In addition to the solo winner of TCRNo9, recognition was made to the emphatic victors of the pairs category, Sherry Cardona (334a) and Gereon Tewes (334b), and to the podium finishers of the brand-new Green Leaderboard – Tim de Witte (024), Christian Dupraz (153) and Christian Englert (173). They, and the other top 10 riders in the Green Leaderboard, received special edition green Lost Dot caps inscribed with “#LowCarbonTCR” to recognise their commitment to travel to and from the Race without flying.

Closing Time

As the party continued into the night, eyes darted towards the promenade and the tracker, awaiting the arrival of the maglia nera – the last rider to finish within the GC cut-off time of 23.59CEST. After 15 days and 18 minutes, James Vernon (288) became that rider, and was met with rapturous applause and congratulations from the waiting crowd.

One of the first to shake his hand was Race-winner, Christoph, who said: “That is truly impressive. To be out for 15 days on the road, that is very tough.” Beaming at the finish, James said he was proud of what he had achieved:

“It’s a culmination of things. It’s more than just getting up every morning to ride the Race; there’s been a year of planning and preparation gone into this event and I am just glad to have it under my belt.” James Vernon (288)

With the sun below the horizon, another Transcontinental Race came to an end. But, as one story ends, another begins. Already, the first pages are being written for future riders inspired by the feats of those who raced TCRNo9, each of them the lead character in their own story.

For those still out on the road who did not make it in time for the General Classification cut-off, their journey goes on, and we wish them all the best in reaching the finish in Thessaloniki. For now, thank you for following along and see you next year for TCRNo10.

Photos: Saskia Martin, Tom Gibbs, and Tomás Montes

Words: Ross Brannigan

← Back to blogs