The Transcontinental began this morning in Burgas, Bulgaria on the shores of the Black Sea. At the time of writing, Björn Lenhard (cap #3) is the first rider on the road, holding onto a lead of some 20km over Jonathan Rankin (cap #15) with Chris Thomas (cap #18) a little further behind.
The 263 riders of TCRNo.7 rolled out of Burgas early this morning and headed northwest up the city highway.
Escorted by local police, the 5km neutralised start will be a stark contrast to the exhaustion, clouded thinking that will settle in once the riders get properly underway.
The Transcontinental Race was founded in 2013 by the late Mike Hall.
Mike died on 31 March 2017 after being struck by a car, just before dawn, on the Monaro Highway on the outskirts of Canberra during the inaugural Indian Pacific Wheel Race across Australia. At the time he was placed second in the race and had covered 5,024km of the 5500 km race.
According to the Transcontinental Race Report, early this morning, Bjorn Lenhard “broke free from the chasers with a stinging attack on the gravel track on the hills above Driankovets, utilising his background in mountain biking to escape across the rough dirt roads.”
Shortly after, Lenhard reached Control Point one at the Buzludzha Monument. 30 minutes behind him came Jonathan Rankin (cap #15)
Rankin was followed in quick succession by Chris Thomas (cap #18), Job Hendrickx (cap #240), Fiona Kolbinger (cap #66) and David Schuster (cap #112).
“It was telling that all the first riders to reach CP1 were riding on narrower, fully-slick road tyres. While those mandatory gravel parcours around the race start in Burgas certainly seemed to have tested the riders, so far it seems that committing to the fastest setup on the tarmac has paid dividends.
“While many of the leading riders have already had their brevet cards stamped at CP1, tonight there is no lull to the racing. In the Transcontinental Race, the clock never stops – while some riders will bed down in hotels and bivvy bags for the night, many more will still be on the bike. Meanwhile, the most determined will push right through into Race Day 2, looking to take a lead that they can defend until Brest," Transcontinental Race Report.
If you want to follow the dots as they inch their way across the continent you can do so on the TCR website.
We will give regular updates on the riders progress as they suffer through country after country, over hill after hill, and probably get puncture after puncture.