Mark Beaumont remains in second place in his debut race at GB Duro 2021, the gravel event spanning the length of the United Kingdom, as he nears the end of stage three before the final stage four up to John O'Groats.
The round-the-world cyclist was second overall at the first checkpoint after the start in Cornwall, blasting through Devon before heading into Wales.
"End of stage one, mid-Wales, I got here at 4.45am this morning after riding 25 hours straight and that was after three hours sleep with a 16-hour straight ride before that," Beaumont said.
"It's next level in terms of terrain and sleep deprivation. The wonderful thing in the finishing area here is seeing people roll in all day, the stories that people have got, there's a 19-year-old, there's a 59-year-old, everyone has war stories from what has been an amazing first couple of days of GB Duro '21."
The next day, the start of the second stage and day four of his race, ending in Cumbria, began after a night of inclement weather.
"Everyone is putting on a brave face this morning but everyone is a bit wet," Beaumont admitted as he got going again.
Later on, the parcours didn't improve the day, as competitors had to take in a whopping 4,100m of climbing in just 100 miles.
Incredible light this morning at the start of stage 3 of @theracingcoll #gbduro21 Mark is off to 🏴 now, the Lambley Viaduct was the first highlight on the route. You can track his progress here https://t.co/pq5IwLVRyx #maidenrace Powered by @RideShimano @Argon18bike @SchwalbeUK pic.twitter.com/bBx47e7qqCAugust 20, 2021
"I'm in Cheshire, near the English border I believe. It's been miserable today, utterly, utterly, miserable. 4,100m of climbing in 100 miles. 100 miles! 4k!
"I walked up a tarmac road pushing my bike, I haven't done that since I was a kid. But I'm happier now, it's 7 o'clock, I've got food, and I'm going to ride into the night and I think I'm second again, getting quite used to being second."
By day six Beaumont had powered through to the second checkpoint and was ready to start stage three.
"It's 480km up into Scotland, can't wait," Beaumont said. "Should get to Falkirk at some point in the middle of the night and then smash it on up to Fort Augustus at the foot of Loch Ness.
"I'm a little bit recovered, I'm still sore, a lot of bruising in the hands and the body just from the tough, technical riding. But some riders have literally just come in, in the last hour, grabbed a coffee and heading back out again. It's the wonderful thing about this event, whether you're the fastest rider or at the slower end, everyone's brought back together for a mass start on the next stage.
"Stage two broke a lot of people, there have been a lot of scratches, but spirits are high for stage three, onwards to Scotland."
Angus Young remains in first place, having already reached the third checkpoint, while Beaumont is the next closest to reaching the final checkpoint before the finish at John O'Groats.
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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