Tour de Timor stage 2 greeted riders with another early morning wake up call. Early starts are a trend in this race predominantly to allow riders to complete the bulk of racing before the brutal heat of the afternoon sun here. So the 7am start had some riders reaching for the arm warmers and undershirts as the temperature dipped to a brisk 17 degrees celsius. On the cards today riders had the shortest stage of the tour but arguably not the easiest. 45km in length including a cat.1 climb and 20km or riding through a river bed before a fast finishing sealed road loop through the camp village of Aileu.
Once descending from the spectacular camp the race was more or less straight into the rough, rocky river bed where large splits in the bunch occurred almost instantly. It was your author of team marathonMTB.com myself Justin Morris who lead the charge through the numerous river crossings that typifies the first 15km of racing joined by fellow Aussie Peter Arnott. We relished at being able to choose our own lines and hit the crossings at a comfortable speed. Arnott would however succumb to derailleur issues and Morris a flat tyre just before the race left the river. Here yellow jersey wearer David Vaz came into his element as the race again pointed to the sky. With flat tyre and derailleur sorted myself and Peter Arnott were joined by Tim Burgoigne from Brisbane and local Timorese athlete Jacinto De Jesus Da Costa. Unfortunately for yesterday’s 3rd place getter Cameron Judson he succumbed to 2 flats losing him time on today’s stage.
The first real technical descent of the tour followed the KOM climb which gave advantage to those with MTB skill set. The mid to lower end of the field was crashes a plenty on the loose terrain descent. No major injuries to be reported with most riders admitting to enjoying the long descent especially after such a hard slog of a climb.
David Vaz would continue on his demolition of the Tour de Timor field finishing with a 10minute gap to again Peter Arnott in 2nd and yours truly a further minute back in 3rd just 30 seconds clear of Da Costa.
In the women’s field it was again Gina Ricardo whom stamped her authority on this tour taking the stage with a 15min gap. Behind Ricardo there was a switch in names as those with the MTB skills came to the fore. New Zealander Lauren Pevy whom lives in Sydney showed her training in the rocky trails of Sydney was worth the effort finishing in 2nd in today’s stage with Domingas Guterres narrowly behind in 3rd. Lauren was happy to get on the podium for the overall female stage but also be leading her age category in the overall classification. Full results here.
Again huge support on the sides of the road for today’s stage which really helps the riders find that extra burst of energy when the going is tough. The transition to shorter more achievable stage distances for the Tour de Timor this year has opened up the race to a broader ability of rider rather than just the elite racers that used to make up a large contingent of entries here. With more time to appreciate the wonder of the place you are in I can appreciate the benefit of this transition. Riders can take the opportunity to explore the local town, meet local people and get a real sense for what life is like in the host country. Rather than just racing full gas and leaving. Many riders are extending their trips in Timor Leste to explore more of this beautiful corner of the world.