Stage 4 lived up to its expectations as one of the toughest stages of this year’s tour. Without 1 significant, defining climb on the stage it was numerous climbs coupled with gnarly descents that tested all riders today. Overall race leader David Vaz was one rider who succumbed to troubles on one of the many technical, bull dust covered descents suffering a large cut to his rear tyre. Overall 2nd place rider Peter Arnott capitalised by putting in a long, strong effort over the 1st KOM point climb of the day- a sealed 7km steady gradient mountain above the township of Gleno. Vaz however once repairing his misfortune put in a mammoth effort to chase back to Arnott with 30km remaining to race. These two would ride together with a 10minute gap to their closest competitors, Arnott who has played bridesmaid to Vaz all week snuck the victory by a meagre 1 second over the classy Vaz. Team rider and author your truly Justin Morris would round out the placings with another 3rd place finish.
In the women’s field it was a case of Deja Vu with Gina Ricardo again putting her power and experience to good use with another victory in front of the Timor Leste duo of Domingas Guterres and Maria Lua Marcal Soares. 3 riders unfortunately succumbed to the difficulty of today’s stage and marked as DNF’s. The terrain here has been very hard on bike and body, riders having difficulty finding chain lube that will sustain the long, dry and very dusty terrain. Full results here.
Another remarkable ride today from the Timor Leste national team riders namely Diamantimor Sandro Monteiro Seixas whom finished a gallant 5th after riding most of the stage today with 3rd and 4th myself and Cameron Judson. The local riders present often on bikes with mechanical brakes and 26inch wheels, technology considered well entruly past by their competitors from Europe and Australia. Also most of these athletes race each stage without any food, relying on the drinks served by the race organisation at the feed zones. It is obvious however in the way they race that there is a lot on the line for these local riders. This is arguably the largest annual sporting event in Timor Leste the attention and adoration they can receive from their local community and in all the villages the race passes through is a huge motivation for them. As the race passes through a village the Timor Leste riders will ride to the front of their group and put in a display of strength to the cheering fans.
It is obvious how much the race means to the local riders through the way they race. Every day they give 110%, they race with guts and determination it is clear there is a lot driving most of these riders to perform. In 2013 Francelina Cabral from Timor Leste won the overall GC and with the prize money was able to buy 2 houses. Hence, the cash prize pool in this race is also a strong motivating factor for riders in this race.
Tomorrow the final and longest day of the tour takes riders from their base in Aileu back to the capital of Dili.