Wednesday brought the second straight Rio de Contas circuit race, this time with 95km and 1750 meters of climbing.
The major hurdles were a trio of lengthy climbs, including a never-ending mid-race hike-a-bike and a 9km paved climb at the end that had ramps in excess of 13 percent.
The good news is that in between all this suffering were numerous sections of rip-roaring singletrack and tons epic scenery.
The day’s stage winners were Czech duo of Robert Novotny and Kristian Hynek, mixed pair Brian and Jenny Smith, and Ivonne Kraft and Celina Carpinteiro. All three teams also own command GC leads in this six-day race that concludes Friday back in Mucuge where it started last Sunday.
The men’s race was decided on the final paved climb, when Novotny attacked and Christof Bischof could not respond. The winning margin was 4:40. The stage lasted just over 4 hours, 40 minutes.
American Jeff Kerkove added his name to the list of major mechanical sufferers, when his bottom bracket shell came unglued from his carbon frame. The Topeak-Ergon rider likened it to riding a bike with no rear skewer.
Kerkove’s mishap resulted in a tightening between third and fourth place overall. Kerkove and Looney now lead Paul Romero and Karen Lundgren (Sole-Ellsworth) by less than four minutes.
After the stage, Kerkove found a loaner bike for Thursday courtesy of the Brazilian Topeak distributor, which also imports Scott bikes.
Both Brian and Jenny Smith suffered incidents themselves. Brain flipped over his handle bars early in the stage. Jenny washed out her front wheel and hit her neck on a tree stump.
Racing in Brazil continues Thursday with a 135km ride from Rio de Contas back to Mucuge. There’s 1716 meters of climbing and the time cut-off is nine hours.