By VeloNews Interactive
Juré Robic continues to lead the soloists in the 2004 Insight Race Across America, and the four-time Slovenian national road champion appears to be on track to break the solo average-speed record in just his second outing.
“Physically he was good in 2003, but not mentally,” said crew member Janez Slapar. “This year he is very good, both physically and mentally.”
The current average-speed record for solo men is 15.40 mph. At present Robic is maintaining a pace of 15.53 mph. And veteran crew members say Robic’s pace will only improve once the road turns skyward in the Appalachian Mountains. Bored by flat terrain, Robic is looking forward to the hills of West Virginia and Pennsylvania, where he expects to be at his best.
Four riders will not be following Robic into the high country after abandoning on day six of the cross-country race.
Robert Rich was the first to announce his exit, at 8:30 a.m. EST in Dalhart, Texas. Rich, who was in jeopardy of being disqualified for not making the time cutoff in Dalhart, had exacerbated some knee problems by picking up the pace.
Less than two hours later, Italian rider Alessandro Coló, one of 14 rookies in this year’s RAAM, was taken to the hospital in Liberal, Kansas, with internal bleeding and multiple saddle sores.
Back pain drove Andrew Lapkass from the race in Dalhart. He had been suffering stomach problems until he switched from a mostly liquid diet to burgers and fries, but it was back spasms that finally took him out in Texas.
And sometime between 3:30 and 6 p.m. EST in Guymon, Oklahoma, James Rosar dismounted his bike for the last time in this year’s RAAM, suffering from knee problems and exhaustion.
ALS Lightning leads teams
ALS Lightning, the lone recumbent team in this year’s Insight Race Across America, became the first team to cross the halfway mark in this year’s race shortly before 6:30 a.m. Eastern time.
The four-man team, riding recumbent bikes outfitted with lightweight composite shells, seeks to break the record for crossing the country — five days, one hour and eight minutes, with an average speed of 24.02 mph, set in 1989. They are currently traveling at an average pace of 24.47 mph.
Heavy thunderstorms late last night and early this morning did nothing to dampen the contest between four-man teams Action Sports and Vail-Go Fast. Only 25 minutes separated the two through New Mexico, across the northwest corners of Texas and Oklahoma, and through Kansas. But when both last checked in from Jefferson City, Missouri, Vail Go-Fast held a 45-minute lead over Action Sports.
Solo rider Jure Robic briefly let his lead slip today when Michael Trevino opened up a 12-minute gap at Mount Vernon, Kansas. Robic quickly chased down Trevino and put him behind by 54 minutes by the next time station at El Dorado, Kansas. At present, Robic leads Trevino by two hours, seven minutes.
The eight-person Kaiser Permanente team continues to widen the gap between them and second place Team Insight. At last check in Yates Center, Kansas, Insight trailed Kaiser Permanente by one hour, 14 minutes, with Team Rim-to-Rim in third place at one hour, nine minutes behind Insight.
All teams are still intact, but the solo field is down to 15 racers from 19; the latest casualties were Pius Achermann, who withdrew in Dalhart, Texas, with saddle sores, and Tracy McKay, who abandoned in Vaughn, New Mexico, with a strained quadriceps.