Justifiably many competitors for Tour de Timor woke this morning a little lack lustre in energy level for the 70km stage and 2100m of elevation scheduled for today’s stage. Although the distances of stages here are short in comparison to other MTB stage races of similar difficulty regard such as the Mongolia Bike Challenge, what these stages lack in length they make up for in elevation gain. The climbs here are steep, rough and LONG. Legitimate Alpine climbs stretching up to majestic heights. The scenery is second to none to any other MTB stage race I have ever done, at one point on today’s stage you could see as far as Australia to the south and Indonesia to the north.
Today riders would climb almost immediately straight up to an elevation of 2 250m through scenes resembling South American Andes, temperatures dropped sharply and the land appears more fertile, with many small farms scattered across the climb to the high elevations of today. The main climb of today and consequent descent would skirt around the highest mountain in East Timor the mighty ‘Ramelau’ a peak that rises to close to 3000m asl. The phenomenal views today were just reward for the absolute brutality of the climbs.
Of course through no surprise it was David Vaz of Portugal who again displayed why he is regarded as one of the finest MTB athletes in Portugal and skyrocketed away from the group on the first time with Peter Arnott who stayed with the lean machine for the longest of any days today. Behind it was Jacinto Jesus Da Silva who again proved he is strongest of the Timorese riders here and really climbed at a very impressive pace before unfortunately succumbing to his effort close to the summit of the 2nd KOM. Behind him the Anglo trio of Tim Goulding, Cameron Judson and myself crested the major climb in 3rd, 4th and 5th. Goulding from Brisbane was having a very good day early in stage managing to gap his competitors and continue on a solo chase of Arnott and Vaz. It was not until the closing 5km that Judson and author Justin caught the gallant Goulding whom would finish 5th behind Judson in 3rd and myself in 4th.
Again the women’s field like the men’s was dominated by one stellar name that of Gina Ricardo from Sydney. Gina admitted to finding her groove in today’s stage and ride with some groups faster than her usual companions. Ricardo who after this race will almost immediately continue to race a National Road Series event in Australia. She remarked how this race has been suited to her road skill set. Check out our interview on our Instagram page. Behind Ricardo today was the Timorese duo of Maria Lua Marcal Soares and Domingas Guterres rounding out today’s podium.
No big changes in GC results today. Full results available here.
Tomorrow marks the queen stage of this year’s tour. But to be honest every stage feels like a queen stage here. The climbs although not my sup of tea as far as my riding ability is concerned certainly open your eye up to not only the beauty of this country but also the life of the people that live here. Traversing through the villages and farms dotted across the mountain sides is something worth entering the Tour de Timor for.