Christoph Strasser has won the ultra-distance Transcontinental Race across Europe for a second year running. At the time of writing he was one of just four riders to have completed the course, which this year runs from Geraardsbergen in Belgium to Thessaloniki in Greece.
The 40-year-old Austrian completed the unsupported race in eight days, 16 hours, 30 minutes – more than six hours ahead of second-placed Robin Gemperle of Switzerland and 16 hours in front of Belgium's Anatole Naimi in third. The vast majority of the field, which began with 341 riders, is still on the road.
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“I am very proud, very empty. I gave all I had on the road," Strasser told TCR organiser LostDot. "It was really, really tough in the end. I need to digest everything, but I am very thankful that nothing happened and that I didn’t have bad luck.
He added: "I didn’t make mistakes like last year, I was in good shape, and that’s all I can do in preparation … Last year seems like a warm-up ride for this year!”
The 3,939km (2,447 miles) covered by Strasser in not much more than a week is more than 500km longer than the three-week Tour de France completed by the pros last month, and saw him average 453km (281 miles) each day.
He did not have it all his own way, with his nemesis Gemperle hot on his heels for much of the race, and the gap narrowing to as little as 3km at one point. On the final leg in Greece Strasser crashed and lost his satellite tracker, being forced to hunt around for it in the dark before mental and physical fatigue necessitated a rest, all the while Gemperle closing in on his lead.
“In the race, it was the excitement to go to my limit; the excitement of the battle and challenge with Robin," Strasser said. "I think we have been motivating each other; when you see the other is going deep you want to do your best and the other way around.”
There is no prescribed route for the event, beyond the fact that riders must pass through a series of checkpoints between the start and finish. This year those were at Italy's Passo dello Spluga, Zgornje Jezersko in Slovenia, Peshkopi in Albania, and Meteora in Greece.
The first two editions of the race, which was conceived by Briton Mike Hall, began in London and finished in Istanbul, Turkey. Yorkshireman Hall, a winner of the TransAm Bike Race across the USA, and a double winner of the Tour Divide, died in 2017 after being hit by a car during the Indian Pacific Wheel Race.
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