Stage 5 fell after the Queen Stage, but riders weren’t given an easy cruise, with another almost 170km route planned. Under another brilliant blue sky, the riders embarked on another epic day at the 2015 Mongolia Bike Challenge.
With 168km to ride, today’s stage was just 7km shorter than yesterday’s Queen Stage, making for another challenging day in the saddle for many of the participants.
The route took the riders along a valley floor for some 40km and then up onto the real Mongolian steppe, where the huge expanses of land in this dreamlike land truly make themselves known.
A group of some 30 riders arrived at the first feed zone at 52km but the arrival of the steppe offered the GC leaders a chance to break free, soon getting a decent time gap that only grew throughout the stage.
In the group of seven were race leader Nicholas Pettina and the 2nd and 3rd placed riders Ryan Sherlock and Miguel Silvestre Iniesta. Joining them were Lee Rodgers, Gantumur Batorshikh, Phillip Orr, and Maral Erdene Batmunkh.
The pace up the step set by the lead group was impressive and, judging by the faces of some at the back of the group, also quite painful. Hitting 30km/hr up 3% climbs will do that to a rider!
All were together still by the third feed at 131km.
Pettina, Iniesta, Sherlock and Batmunkh then broke clear, but within 10km the Mongolian punctured. The three leaders then headed to the last tough little climb with 10km to go but the lightweight Iniesta was there surprisingly dropped, leaving the increasingly impressive Sherlock to actually distance Pettina on the hill.
The race leader then managed to close the gap and the two finished on the same time, riding into the finish at the Steppe Nomad camp with the same time, with Sherlock crossing the line first, with Iniesta 4 minutes down.
Mongolia Challenge Stage 5 Results:
1 Ryan Sherlock
2 Nicholas Pettina
3 Miguel Silvestre Iniesta
Mongolia Bike Challenge GC:
1 Nicholas Pettina
2 Miguel Silvestre Iniesta
3 Ryan Sherlock
Full results are online.