Every stage race has a stage that glares at you from the race handbook. Big distances, big kilometres – a long and hard day on the bike. While the 2015 Mongolia Bike Challenge has no easy days, Stage Four was certainlt the Queen Stage, with 175km and 2450m of climbing.
Starting off from their overnight Stage 3 camp on a mountainside at 1700m, the racers headed down through a stunning valley. Stage 4 was destined to test the mettle of all the riders who took the line today, with over 2450 meters of climbing up some challenging hills, and so it proved.
At the bottom of the first descent some 20 riders were together at the front, which was whittled down to 10 by the first feed station at 41km. The fast pace that we saw the previous three days was evident again and by the 50km point a further 2 riders were dropped by the speeding pack of leaders.
On the first serious climb Yuki Ikeda of Japan lost touch but managed to rejoin the group, eventually finishing 5th again.
The question on everyone’s mind was whether anyone could trouble the race leader, Nicholas Pettina, who started the day 22mins ahead of Miguel Silvestre Iniesta and 27mins over Ryan Sherlock. That question was answered brutally on the climb to the day’s only GPM/KOM point, up a steep, challenging hillside set amidst high rocky outcrops.
Pettina changed gear and opened a gap on Iniesta and Sherlock , and soloed in for 60km, finishing 7 and a half minutes ahead of Sherlock in second and Iniesta in third (both finishing on the same time).
It was another picture-perfect day at the Mongolia Bike Challenge, with huge cumulus clouds billowing in an otherwise azure blue sky.
Speaking at the end, a rider from Germany, Fritz Reiner, said “It was a long stage but, you know, it was the most amazing ride I have ever done. I wouldn’t have given up one kilometer.”
Stage 4 Race Results:
1 Nicholas Pettina
2 Ryan Sherlock
3 Miguel Silvestre Iniesta
Full GC ranking is online.