Three-times TransContinental Race winner, Kristof Allegaert, says the TransContinental is for those who can cope with physical and mental suffering, but his motivation is a love of cycling.
As of yesterday, eleven days after the race start, eight people have finished TCRno4, 62 have scratched, and 148 are still battling on to the finish line in Canakkale, Turkey. Allegaert finished on Sunday, in 8d15h2m, and gave an interview fresh from the road.
Neil Phillips came in second in the men's race on Monday, finishing in 9d17h43m, while Emily Chappell is currently leading the women, just 114km from the finish line.
The man who has ridden three of the four TransContinental races, and won each one, Allegaert is in a unique position to comment on the race, including how it has changed since its inception.
He says the terrain was rougher between this year’s checkpoints, and the last day was the most challenging part, with the cumulative effects of fatigue and head wind. He said though you can smell the finish line, the end is a long time coming.
When asked how he selects his kit, Allegaert said: “It’s a process of years. It’s not the most modern thing, or the lightest. It has to be something I can count on 24 hours a day in every kind of different condition.”
Allegaert rides a steel bike for comfort (see link below for an in-depth look at his Jaegher Interceptor), selects "super strong wheels", and a group set that works in all conditions.
Allegaert says some enter the TransContinental half-heartedly, without knowing what to expect. He says it’s more than simply keeping going, but if you’re dedicated, he says “go for it, never stop”; just be prepared for suffering, the unexpected, and running out of food and not knowing where the nearest shop is.
He said: “If you’re not good at suffering, physically and mentally, it’s not for you, the TransContinental Race, because you have to go deep, very deep in these things.”
While Allagaert's favourite part of the race was cycling through Switzerland and discovering a new Col towards Checkpoint 3 he hadn’t yet ridden, Phillips was heading into Checkpoint 4, through a tunnelled section to a plateau. You can see Phillips’ interview here.