Racers overcome rain and Bintan’s hills in the Gran Fondo Classic
Simpang Lagoi, Bintan, Indonesia
March 30, 2019
As well as the exciting racing at Stage 2 of the 2019 Tour de Bintan, which saw victories come from both breakaways and bunch sprints, the other main talking point as the riders reflect on a tough day in the saddle will be the rain.
While rain is no stranger to the Tour de Bintan, the Indonesian island that gives the race its name has been going though an extended dry spell of late, but that broke today with a vengeance. The riders awoke for their 5am breakfast at the Bintan Lagoon Resort race HQ to the sight of lightening illuminating the sky and the promise of worse to come. Sure enough, when daylight came it brought with it a tropical downpour that delayed the race start at the Simpang Lagoi township by one hour.
While eventually lessening in intensity, the rain hardly stopped all day, and so the riders taking on the 140km Gran Fondo Classic had to contend with wet, dirty roads as well as Bintan’s infamous rolling hills.
With the Gran Fondo Classic doubling as a qualifier for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Poznan, Poland this September, the men racers were split into a number of pelotons reflecting the age groups they were racing in, while the smaller women’s field started in one combined bunch. One of the best elements of Gran Fondo World Series events is that the top 25 percent in each age category qualify for the world champs so even if breakaways are up the road, there is still incentive for everyone to keep racing.
The highlights from today included Nol Van Loon (Specialized Roval Mavericks) being the first rider to cross the finish line back at Simpang Lagoi after the Dutch rider soloed across to a small breakaway in the 19-34 category with 15km to go and then just kept going on his own for a famous victory. His winning time was 3 hours, 33 minutes and 16 seconds.
The fastest man of the day, though, was Alan Blakie (Integrated Riding Racing Team). He was part of a five-man breakaway in the 35-39 age group and duly won the sprint in a time of 3:31:52. There was another solo victory in the 45-49 cat as the yellow jersey of Michael Anthes (Roval Racing) consolidated his grip in that age group by riding away from the rest late in the race. The 40-44 division saw the biggest bunch sprint and that was won by Chris Reynolds (Specialized Roval Mavericks).
Among the ladies, the biggest kudos goes to 35-39 age group pair of Annemiek Stegehuis (Paco Tora Concap) and Yann Kai Oh (Project 852), as those two finished four minutes ahead of any other women, with Stegehuis taking the line honours in the sprint.
The 2019 Tour de Bintan concludes tomorrow with the Gran Fondo Century, a 108km journey through the northwestern sector of the island. With nearly as much elevation as today’s longer stage, it’s another tough test for the racers. Adding to the challenge is that with the tour’s move to the Bintan Lagoon Resort this year, the finishing stretch after the Checkpoint Charlie rollers is both new, longer and possibly tougher than in previous editions of the race. Expect fireworks as those behind in the standings make last-ditch bids for glory.