By Jason Sumner
The top of the overall men’s standings reversed Wednesday at the Brasil Ride, after Kristian Hynek and Robert Novatny (Future Cycling-Sweep) snagged the stage 4 win and moved into the yellow leader’s jersey in this seven-day mountain bike stage race in the Brazilian state of Bahia.
The Czech duo, who are the defending champs, rode away on the day’s final climb near the end of a scalding 81.5km stage that started and finished in Rio de Contas. Total time in the saddle was 3:33:26, 1:54 ahead of former overall leaders Luis Pinto and Alejandro Lopez (Team Spano-Luso). But the GC difference is still tiny considering all the miles already logged. The top two teams are separated by just 1:10.
“Robert was stronger than Alejandro today and that was the difference that allowed us to attack,” said Hynek. “The key for this race is always the second partner because that decides the speed.”
The mixed dup competition also remains interesting, with German Ivonne Kraft and Brazilian partner Mateus Ferraz (Brasil Soul-RC Bikes) battling the Italian duo of Annabella Stropparo and Piero Pellegrini (Annapiero). On Wednesday, Kraft and Ferraz took a relatively narrow 7-minute stage win, and now have a 44-minute lead in the overall.
It doesn’t count for anything more than bragging rights, but it’s worth noting that Brian and Jenny Smith were actually first mixed team across the line in stage 4. Unfortunately, Brian was knocked out of the race by a one-day bought of food poisoning two days earlier.
“There was no stomach pain, the legs felt fresh, I was spinning and smiling,” said Brain Smith.
The same bad-stomach fate befall Topeak-Ergon’s Jeff Kerkove, but it didn’t matter when it happened, as American Airlines was four days late on delivering his bike, meaning he couldn’t start the race anyway. The bike finally showed late Tuesday night, but after starting stage 4 along with partner Sonya Looney, Kerkove was forced to pack it near the final aid station, as he’s still feeling the effects of the illness and struggling to keep food down.
“It’s no reflection on the event, but this is by far the worst bike racing and travel experience I’ve ever had,” said Kerkove.
The top of the women’s standing remained intact, as Adriana Nascimento and Sabrina Gobbo (Ladies Brasil Soul-RC Bikes) took their fourth stage win in a row in the three-team field. The lead in the overall is nearly 90 minutes.
Next up is another Rio de Contas start/finish stage, this time covering 95km with 1750 meters of climbing. Start time is 7 a.m. Cut off is 10 hours. Features include plenty of testing, rocky singletrack and the final grueling asphalt climb. Expect the heat to be a factor again as well.