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RAAM Round-up: Robic finds it almost too easy; Team Vail finishes

Athens, Ohio - Juré Robic’s grizzled, sun baked body resisted. It wanted to stay on the soft grass, out of the sun, relaxed by the side of the road in Athens, Ohio. But the mind of the Insight Race Across America’s defending champion had other ideas. So Robic rose, with the help of two crew members, threw a leg over his Italian race bike, and pedaled on the down the road as he has for the previous seven-and-a-half days, towards time station 45. With the departure of second place Mike Trevino from the race earlier in the day, due to a separated shoulder, Robic’s second consecutive RAAM win

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2000 down; 500 to go

By Chris Milliman

Do I have to get up again?

Do I have to get up again?

Photo: Chris Milliman

Athens, Ohio – Juré Robic’s grizzled, sun baked body resisted. It wanted to stay on the soft grass, out of the sun, relaxed by the side of the road in Athens, Ohio. But the mind of the Insight Race Across America’s defending champion had other ideas. So Robic rose, with the help of two crew members, threw a leg over his Italian race bike, and pedaled on the down the road as he has for the previous seven-and-a-half days, towards time station 45.

With the departure of second place Mike Trevino from the race earlier in the day, due to a separated shoulder, Robic’s second consecutive RAAM win seemed all but assured as his margin over new second position man Fabio Biasiolo stood at nearly 15 hours. But losing a rival, even one who was falling farther behind with each passing day, seemed to have unintended consequences for the strong man from Slovenia.

“He’s disappointed, he expected a tough race,” said Matjiz Planinsek, one of Robic’s crew members. “There’s no pressure on him now, and when you have pressure it’s easier for you to fight.”

And without that pressure from behind, perceived or real, the drive to maintain the infernal pace of the race’s first week waned, if only momentarily, from the 40-year-old soldier. With time not an issue, Robic stopped for an unscheduled rest in Athens after consulting with his crew. It gave the Slovenian support crew a much needed break, allowed the mechanic time to air up a new set of tires, and seemed to create an atmosphere of reflection on the 2,500 miles already ridden and the 500 to come.

Current standings
(All race times are in Eastern Daylight Time)Women’s Solo
Consistent as ever as she presses eastward, Anna Catharina Berg lastreported in from Time Station #40 in Indianapolis, Indiana at 15:23. Havingcovered already 2257 miles in RAAM only 794.7 remain for Berg.Men’s Solo
By late afternoon June 28, Jure Robic will have successfully defendedlast year’s RAAM victory. In shrewd showboat fashion, Robic will likelyride into a throng of fans, supporters and onlookers here to marvel atthe transcontinental racer. With 353.3 miles to go, Robic last reportedin from Time Station #49 in Gormania, WV at 12:37. Second-place Fabio Biasolochecked in from Time Station #46 in Parkersburg, WV at 14:22. Just onehour later, Chris MacDonald passed through Parkersburg at 15:25. Both Biasoloand MacDonald have ridden 2558.5 with 493.2 to go.Two-person Mixed Division
ALERT! Shanna Armstrong and Guy Wells of Team Endorphins have overtakenand now lead the Two-person Mixed category. Team Endorphins passed throughTime Station #36 in Greenville, Illinois at 12:45. But hold your applause,Endorphins fans. Just 21 minutes down, Grupo Guapo called in from Greenvilleat 13:06. Both teams have pedaled 2058.3 miles with 993.4 still to go.Two-person Men’s Division
First-place Team Lower Austria-Krems reported in from Time Station#46 in Parkersburg, WV at 13:08. So far the team has gone 2558.5 mileswith 493.2 to go. Although it has been reported into RAAM HQ that TeamCrazy Gones has suffered some equipment and health problems in their transcontinentalchallenge, the team still holds the second-place position. The Crazy Goneschecked in last from Time Station #44 in Laurelville, Ohio at 15:15. CrazyGones have pedaled 2476.9 miles so far with 574.8 yet to go. Team 60+ issnug in third having ridden already 2159.9 miles with 891.8 to go. Team60+ passed through Time Station #38 in Marshall, Illinois at 15:05.Four-person Mixed Division
Cheniere’s Making Cancer History seems to be making a point of keepingsecond-place Landis Team Phoenix at least one time station back. MakingCancer History checked in from Time Station #48 in Grafton, WV at 14:50.About one hour earlier and one time station back, Landis Team Phoenix checkedin from Smithburg, WV at 14:40.Four-person Women’s Division
Roaring Fork Volvo B2B Divas. The ladies from Vail might feel at homeheading into the mountains of West Virginia. They last checked in fromTimes Station #47 in Smithburg, WV at 16:39. Moving steadily along, TheDivas have ridden more than 2607.2 miles with less than 444.5 miles leftto go.Four-person Men’s Division
Beaver Creek – Vail became the first team to cross the finish linein this year’s RAAM. Mike Janelle, Toph Leonard, Jimi Mortenson, and BrianSmith of Beaver Creek – Vail arrived in Atlantic City today at 11:26 EDTwith a finishing time of 5 days, 18 hours, 15 minutes. (see story below)At time of release, Team IWC Schaffhausen became the second team to reachthe finish line today. Within the last 24 hours IWC Schaffhausen bridgeda narrow gap with second-place Kern Wheelmen – Advocare. A strategically-timed”night attack” in West Virginia by IWC Schaffhausen launched them intosecond place and helped them put more than three hours into the Kern Wheelmen.IWC Schaffhausen’s finished RAAM at 16:07 with a time of 5 days, 22 hours,56 minutes. On deck, the Kern Wheelmen – Advocare are scheduled to arrivein Atlantic City at approximately 19:50.Four-person Recumbent
Closing in on the finish and a World RAAM Record for a four-personrecumbent team, ALS-Bacchetta called in from Time Station #54 in Georgetown,Pa. at 15:15. With only 110.1 miles to go, ALS – Bacchetta should crossthe finish line tonight at approximately 20:34. Team JDRF VeloKraft ridessteadily eastward from Time Station #50 in La Vale, Md. where they checkedin at 16:12. There are only 307 miles to go for JDRF VeloKraft.Corporate Teams
Not to be accused of giving fans a “sleeper” race, Team Insight ison course to tidily cruise into a category victory at approximately 4:13tomorrow morning. With 214.5 miles to go Team Insight last checked in fromTime Station #52 in Rouzerville, Pa. at 17:20. Eric Heiden’s Team DonateLife reached Time Station 50 in La Vale, Md. at 16:28. Without a backwardglance, Team Vern’s Inc. continues to open the gap over Team Dry Heat.Team Vern’s Inc. last called in from Times Station #44 in Laurelville,Ohio at 15:20.For up-to-the-moment race progress, visit  www.raceacrossamerica.org.
 Today’s Top Stories:Beaver Creek – Vail Becomes First Team to Cross Finish Line inRAAM
By Wendy Booher11:26 EDT Riding 3051.7 miles from San Diego to Atlantic City seemsonly to have improved the rugged good looks of Team Beaver Creek – Vail.The haggard but still smiling team of Mike Janelle, Toph Leonard, JimiMortenson, and Brian Smith became the first team to cross the finish linein this year’s RAAM with a finishing time of 5 days, 18 hours, 15 minutes.Remarked for their seamless transition between riders, the team–comprisedof four routine 24-hour mountain bike racers–moved across country withlocomotive rhythm despite oppressive humidity bearing down on them throughmuch of the race.”Transition is a very important part of the race,” said Toph Leonard.”You need to stay away from high speeds to be able to maintain a consistentspeed. The whole idea is to get a rider out on the road, preferably ona hill, and build up speed from there.”Early on in the race, Jimi Mortenson suffered a hurt knee while crossingthrough Arizona. Despite his claim to being the “weak link,” Mortensonhas the most experience of anyone on the team with three RAAM entries.Both returning RAAM racers, Mortenson and Janelle’s past RAAM experiencesproved invaluable in sustaining a winning pace.From the start, this year’s Vail team rode a record-setting pace untilnearly Indiana when perhaps insufferable temperatures slowed the team.Unlike last year, this year’s RAAM features an additional 7,000 feet ofclimbing plus 100 extra miles over last year’s race. Considering hamperingfactors like daily temperatures in the 90s, 110,000-feet of climbing andthe added mileage, Beaver Creek – Vail maintained an average pace of roughlyaround 22 mph.The next team expected to arrive is the four-man team IWC Schaffhausenat 16:34 this afternoon. Stay tuned to www.raceacrossamerica.org for up-to-the-minuterace informationThe Heat
By Chris MillimanWhen the final story of the 2005 Insight Race Across America is written,the infernal heat of this year’s race will be one of the main characters.Since the racers left the temperate seaside breezes of San Diego last Sunday,the day-time temperatures have seldom dropped below 90, and the relativehumidity has climbed as the race has moved east. The blast furnace tripledigit heat of the desert might have seemed the hottest the race could get,but stultifying days in the Midwest have proved that heat comes in manyvarieties, all equally potent.The desert heat caused many riders respiratory distress, several racerscontracted pneumonia and Austrian Alexander Gepp lost his voice after theSonorran Desert on day one. The conditions in the high air of the RockyMountains may have seemed a respite, but the effects of dehydration atelevation, with temps still in the low-90s, kept the cumulative fatigueand fluid intake conundrum in play.The Midwest proved an unwelcome surprise. Hot, humid conditions blanketedthe prairies and farmland, giving riders no place other than the air conditionedshelter of their RV for respite. Some riders, JurÈ Robic in particular,have flourished in the heat, while others, like Chris MacDonald, have foundthe unending string of days in a cross-country sauna more than their bodiesand minds were prepared for.