|RAAM Report št.8: This rookie won't give up without the fight...|
|Wednesday, 20 June 2012|
Reto Schoch surprises us since the beginning of the race, not only with an excellent ride, but mainly with his tranquility. Many rookies would simply surrender when they would get caught and overtaken by the defending champion. But Reto didn’t give in, he continues to race his own race. At the time station no. 42 Blanchester, Ohio, the diminutive Swiss rider is one more time leading the race. His advantage over the defending champion Cristoph Strasser is seven minutes and it is among those two that the winner of the race will be decided. Austrian Gerhard Gulewicz is still securely in the third place and at the 38th TS more than 11 hours behind the leaders. Unfortunately, his chances of winning are no more realistic.
What awaits the leading riders now are two time stations in the hilly Ohio and then they head towards West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The biggest obstacle in the last 600 miles are the Apalachian Mountains with not very long, yet extremely steep climbs. The deciding factor will definitely be fresher legs, but also the sleep tactic. Given the proximity in which the leading racers are, their crews are likely to adapt their sleep schedule to the opponent’s. An important factor in RAAM are the crews and towards the end of the race the crews are bound to be close to an exhaustion. Their main job now is to keep it cool and not to allow any unnecessary errors, either in navigation or with violation of the race rules, which can quickly bring unwanted penalties. Currently, the two leaders are without penalty minutes, which means that both crews have (so far) done their job perfectly. In the last hours Strasser was credited with 1h 15min "credit" for an incident that occurred a few days ago when a local police officer forced team Strasser to stop in the middle of a bad storm and tornado warnings. It will be interesting to see the reaction of Schoch’s team, which was in that same storm and also sought refuge from it, but it was done in their sole discretion for safety reasons of rider and the crew. Hopefully the organisers will be dealing with both cases in the same manner or else the race for the first place has just lost its appeal...
As I mentioned, the GG has no longer the possibility to fight for a victory. Even 4th placed Hungarian Jarvas has quite a healthy advantage of three hours over 5th placed Spaniard Garcia. Another three hours back are German rider Schegel and Check rider Bozak. Riders from 8th to 10th places are also very close (Searvogel, Lane and Mader), within another 3 hours. Already 12 riders have DNF’s (Did Not Finish), the rest are still in the race and in my view all of them can endure to the end. The only reason to detter them from finishing now would be not to make a cutoff which is set at the average speed of 10miles/h, if they don’t make it at Mississippi River they risk disqualification. On the very edge of this average at the moment are two riders New Zealander Nick Dunne and an American Mike Wilson. We wish them strength to make it through.
Idrija Hommage to JR team still holds on to an excellent third place in 4 man team division. Unfortunately the first two teams have put a little more distance between them and Idrija, but 4th and 5th placed teams are still dangerously close. We keep our fingers crossed for Slovenian team to (at least) hold on to their 3rd place until the Finish.
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