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By Chris Milliman
Greenville, Illinois – There’s an accepted truth in the annals of the Race Across America: the race really begins once the riders hit the Mississippi River. While it’s not the mathematical half-way mark, the Mississippi is the most obvious indication that there’s still a heap of riding yet to go.
If that’s so, then the leader through day seven, Slovenia’s Juré Robic, is just getting warmed up to repeat his win of a year ago. As potential challengers have fallen by the wayside, brought low by unreasonable early efforts, extreme heat, and the simple fatigue of riding 20 to 22 hours a day for a week, Robic has kept his incredible pace and stretched his lead to over half a day as the race nears the eastern time zone.
The list of Robic’s challengers shrunk by one as one-time leader, Marko Baloh, withdrew on day six because of pneumonia. Mike Trevino, last year’s runner-up, chose the middle of day seven to take a four-hour rest, during which Robic’s margin bulged.
This year’s oppressive heat and humidity in the Midwest have surprised even the most seasoned RAAM riders, and rookie Chris MacDonald particularly. With sustained high-90’s and humidity to match, the weather has stunned many racers who thought they’d left the warm weather back in Arizona.
“This is a different kind of heat,” said MacDonald, who dropped out of the top three on day seven. “In the west we had dry heat and this is so humid, both yesterday and today. I think it’s actually harder to stay cool in the humid heat.”
And even if it doesn’t stay hot, the huge chunks of climbing in the final 750 miles promise to nail home what the riders already accept: RAAM is relentless in dishing out punishment. On his current schedule, Robic will reach the finish in Atlantic City early Tuesday morning.
Category Standings as of 6 p.m. EST, June 25, 2005
(All race times are in Eastern Standard Time) Women’s Solo
Anna Catharina Berg, Berg continues to show strong legs each day. At 15:36 today, Berg traveled through Time Station #31, Collins, Missouri. So far she has put 1755.9 miles behind her with 1295.8 miles left until the finish in Atlantic City. Men’s Solo
Jure Robic seems to have first place sewn up for the moment. Robic last reported in from Time Station #38 in Marshall, Ill. at 14:20. He has less than 1,000 miles to ride to the finish but the mountains of West Virginia—the Mountain State—can often frustrate unsuspecting racers. Second-place Mike Trevino crossed the Mississippi River at 13:33 this afternoon. Trevino has covered 2012.2 miles with 1039.5 to go. With Marko Baloh withdrawing from the race with acute respiratory pneumonia, Fabio Biasolo moves into third place. Biasolo checked in from Time Station #34, Marthasville, Missouri at 12:30 having ridden 1943.1 miles so far with 1108.6 to go. Two-person Mixed Division
With all three teams chugging along across Kansas, Grupo Guapo continues to maintain its lead over second place, Team Endorphins, with the Free Riders turning the pedals in third place. Grupo Guapo reached Time Station #26 in Pratt, Kansas at 17:29; they have ridden 1457.7 miles with 1594.0 miles to go. Team Endorphins passed through Time Station #24 in Montezuma, Kansas at 13:52. Team Endorphins has put behind them 1356.1 miles with 1695.6 miles still to come. The Free Riders called in from Time Station #23 in Ulyssees, Kansas at 16:47; they have pedaled 1305.5 miles with 1746.2 left to go. Two-person Men’s Division
Team Lower Austria-Krems stays steady in front having exited Kansas today. The team reported in from Time Station #31 in Collins, Missouri at 15:05. So far the team has gone 1755.9 miles and has yet to ride 1295.8 more miles. Nearly at the border of Kansas and Missouri, Team Crazy Gones called in from Time Station #30 in Fort Scott, Kansas at 16:30. Crazy Gones have packed in 1693.9 miles so far with 1357.8 still to come. Team 60+ hangs onto third place but could be set back slightly by a penalty for not calling in at Time Station #24 in Montezuma, Kansas. Four-person Mixed Division
Cheniere’s Making Cancer History succeeded in putting first place Landis Team Phoenix behind them by only 32 minutes at last check. Both teams called in from Times Staion #32 in Camdenton, Missouri with Making Cancer History posting a time check at 17:18 and Landis Team Phoenix at 17:50. Pay attention, ladies and gentlemen, this could be the race that comes down to the line in Atlantic City. Four-person Women’s Division
Roaring Fork Volvo B2B Divas, With nothing controversial to report, the Divas race against themselves (perhaps in an effort to best last year’s average speed?). The Divas last reported in from Time Station #30 in Fort Scott, Kansas at 14:39. Four-person Men’s Division
Team Beaver Creek-Vail overtook Men’s Solo leader, Jure Robic, just past 17:00 this evening. Two veteran officials monitoring the Vail racers told of an awe-inspiring team that rotated racers through a non-stop paceline with expert efficiency. On course for an average speed record, Beaver Creek – Vail checked in from Times Station #39 in Putnamville, Indiana at 17:39. Having already ridden 2209.5 miles, the gentlemen from Vail have just 842.2 miles to go in this year’s RAAM.
In a race for second place Team Kern Wheelmen-Advocare sustains a narrow lead over Team IWC Schaffhausen with both teams checking in from Time Station #36 in Greenville, Illinois just 35 minutes apart. Four-person Recumbent
Team ALS-Bacchetta sits comfortably in the lead with Team JDRF VeloKraft trailing by more than five hours. At time of release, ALS – Bacchetta had checked in from Time Station #36 in Greenville, Illinois at 18:12; JDRF VeloKraft was last heard from at Time Station #33 in Jefferson City, Missouri at 14:57. Corporate Teams
Team Insight seeks to set two records in this year’s RAAM: one for average speed and the other for completing the race in under six days. So far Team Insight shows promise to break the average speed record but with more mileage and greater elevation gains in this year’s race, record #2 might elude the team. Riding with a record-setting pace of 20.1 mph, Team Insight last checked in from Time Station #34 in Marthasville, Missouri at 17:41. In the runner-up position, Team Donate Life called in from TS 33 in Jefferson City, Missouri at 17:52. Team Vern’s Inc. appears to have passed Team Dry Heat and even opened up a 90-minute gap over Dry Heat. Vern’s Inc. last called in from Times Station #30 in Fort Scott, Kansas at 18:02. For up-to-the-moment race progress, see www.raceacrossamerica.org.