The third stage of Brasil Ride resulted in a new leadership in the Open category, as during the eighth edition of the biggest mountain bike stage race in the Americas. Riding 74 kilometers among the mountains in Guaratinga, the stage saw winners Brazilian Henrique Avancini and Czech Jiri Novak defining their victory in the final metres, and now they are the new GC leaders, with a gap of just one second ahead of Italians Michele Casagrande and Fabian Rabensteiner, runner-ups today and in GC. Top three was completed by Dutch Hans Becking and Danish Sebastian Fini, who also now place third in the general classification, 1min30 behind the winners.
Tight battles at Brazil Ride
Despite duos Avancini/Novak and Casagrande/Rabensteiner having crossed the finish line almost at the same time, the first attacks of the day was made by Becking and Fini, who pushed hard on the first climb but finished third, in 3h41min. “We tried to dominate the race and study our opponents. Hans and Sebastian pushed hard on the first climb, and it was a very aggressive attack, but the peloton escaped little by little”, told Avancini.
“Jiri and I did a good job with Michele and Fabian, thinking about the general classification. We reached Hans and Fini, and around km 50 we kept pushing together. It was a good day to top the GC, practically tied with Italians, something unheard of in the history of Brasil Ride. We have four more days ahead, and the dispute for the win will be hot”, completed the Brazilian rider, leader of the race so far, with his partner Jiri Novak, with 9h14min27.
In the final 300 metres, the win was defined on a mini-XC around the campsite. “Avancini comes from the cross-country, which is not my style. It was a very disputed win. There was no strategy, just giving our best until crossing the finish line. We still have four more days, and that’s a lot. The fourth stage will have plenty of climbs, and it will probably be the most important in the competition”, assessed Jiri.
For Fabian Rabensteiner, the present champion, it was a day for overcoming oneself. “Michele was a little bit stronger than I. I was not bad, but I felt pain in my back in the final kilometres. The finish was not easy. I tried to pass Jiri, but he closed my passage, and I didn’t have a chance. This is normal in mountain biking”, highlighted Rabensteiner.
“It was good for us, despite the second place on the sprint. I hope to have a win tomorrow, maybe, I prefer short courses, but since there is no such thing in Brasil Ride, I have to enjoy this opportunity and this beautiful experience. The place is fantastic, with beautiful mountains”, told Casagrande. The Trek Selle San Marco duo now accumulates 9h14min28, and Becking/Fini come right after, with 9h17min33.
Masters fight back at Brazil Ride
Olympic (1996) and world (1995) champion Bart Brentjens, and the Brazilian MTB legend Abraão Azevedo, recovered their leadership this Tuesday after seeing themselves in a singular situation on Monday. In the second stage of this edition, Czechs Ondrej Fotjik and Robert Novotny – two times champion on the open category, in 2010/2011 – ended a long tradition and won the stage between Arraial d’Ajuda and Guaratinga. Since the Brasil Ride’s prologue in 2013, Brentjens and Azevedo had never finished a single stage without climbing to the top of the podium.
Besides the win on Tuesday, Brentjens and Azevedo closed a gap of over 12 minutes, and opened 35 seconds more. “The third stage was cool. Many singletracks among cocoa plantations, and the beginning was slippery, due to the drizzle. On this stage, Abraão was much better than last stage. I felt good, despite not being so strong, but enough to ride well. We were lucky to be able to ride among other teams of the elite category, and save energy. Three stages down, four to go, and we are ahead – that makes things more exciting. The dispute will be tight this year”, analysed Bart Brentjens.
Women fight on at the Brazil Ride
Brazilian Raiza Goulão and French Margot Moschetti keep riding with tranquility, pursuing the title of Brasil Ride 2017. One more time, the win went to the French-Brazilian duo, in 4h34min13, holding on tho the orange jersey, with a total of 11h11min11.
“It was a good day. A very nice stage, with plenty of singletracks, lots of climbs and downhills, plus a steep, difficult climb. Raiza helped a lot, because she is strong in this kind of race”, told Margot. “After reaching my limit on stage 2, today we lived the spirit of mountain biking. Smooth flow on an amazing course”, closed Raiza.
Look out for the Queen Stage
Now, the next stage and challenge will be more intense. Longer than the 74 kilometres on stage 3, riders will accumulate 2,963 climb in 90 kilometres on the last of the two stages in the region of Guaratinga, during the Queen stage – the most difficult of the event.