Rough Weather, Panoramic Views And A Fight For Control
Partners Soren Nissen of Luxembourg and Cory Wallece of Canada are the winners of the first stage of Samarathon 2019. After the short and intense Prologue Stage yesterday, the riders took their places on the starting line near the visitors center in Kibbutz Ketura in the southern Arava.
Bright skies and a dry breeze welcomed the riders and led them to a rolling start on a wide southern track. Teams set off according to their hard earned position, secured in yesterdays' prologue, and right away started sorting themselves out. The battle continued along the tough desert landscape causing some stress and close calls. After the 5th kilometer the teams moved into smaller groups… found their rhythm and eased into some fast riding.
About 8 km from the jump, the track took the riders westward with a gradual climb towards the top of Shaharut and "Shayarot" cliffs, the first significant ascent of the day. Maale Shaharut is a wide jeep road with steep and brittle segments, and every now and then the riders are given an additional "bonus" in the form of short but exhausting walkthroughs. For their efforts, at the top the Arava Valley reveals itself to them in all its splendor with the unique and amazing panoramas of this region.
16 km in, the race took the cyclists south to a singletrack, part of the Israel Bike Trail.
Followed by a short crossover on a wide trail and another quick camel trail, the riders found themselves back at the cliff base. At this point yesterdays 2 leading teams, Shlomy Haimy and Guy Sessler, along with Soren Nissen and his partner Cory Wallece, dictated a high pace and opened a considerable gap from their pursuers. A quick descent down the "Zugan" Riverbed took the riders north on a fast trail with a pampering southern wind on their backs along the Uvda base fence.
After a quick and pampering stop at the aid station run by the Ronen family from Kibbutz Mishmar Ha'emek, the riders continued eastward along Nahal Isaron to the Isaron water hole. Not a long ascent but very technical one with dense serpentine trails and rock steps forcing a considerable number of riders to begin a short hike-a-bike. Back to the Israel BikeTrail and a ride north along the cliffs to a singletrack that is both amazing in its beauty and quality of construction.
At this point the weather changed and the riders were forced to face strong winds on their way to the Kisuy Dunes. Near the entrance to the reserve was the Neviot refreshment station and PowerRade's Isoton drinks station where the riders got the energy boost needed to cross the sandy sections of the great dune in Nahal Kisuy.
At the second aid station, about 56 km in, riders stopped for refreshments and received VIP treatment. The Shimano Israel team oiled chains and dealt with malfunctions, the aid station volunteers filled bottles with Isotones and pushed gels into the shirt pockets and for the first time in Israel, a team from Tal Optics representing Oakley Israel, washed and cleaned the dusty sunglasses.
From there they rode along the oil pipeline route south. This is a wide but challenging jeep route, thanks to its steep, bumpy slopes and technical, challenging descents. From there north to the Ketura riverbed towards Ma'aleh Ketura, Ketura Ascent, which was the real challenge of this Stage.
After 73 km, and ascents of over 1100 meters , Ketura Ascent was the most significant trial of strength of this day. This trail has been masterly crafted. It is very steep and forces riders to occasionally walk because of the steep slope, compounded by the accumulated fatigue of the day. At the top of the ascent, the riders reached the finale in the form of a beautiful path leading directly to the finish line in the date palm orchard of Kibbutz Neot Smadar.
1st Place: Shlomi Haimy, Guy Sessler
2nd Place: Cory Wallece, Soren Nissen
3rd Place: Ori Leonzini, Tomer Zaltsman
1st Place: Naama Noyman, Gali Weiberg
2nd Place: Nathali Shneitter, Nora Korem
3rd Place: Sandi Griffin, Silke Lehnhof
1st Place: Frederic Gomber, Sohie Giobane
2nd Place: Ilan Edelson, Debora Ohayon
3rd Place: Maran Feller, Eldad Ohayon
Grand Masters 50+
1st Place: Marcel Hofmann, Rigo Shcultz
2nd Place: Gil Kashi, Ronen Shirizly
3rd Place: Gil Ishinsky, Oran Uzrad
1st Place: Lior Zach Maor, Lior Zehave
2nd Place: Yuval Rozentzvig, Lior Haklai
3rd Place: Roy Haker, Daniel Zigmond
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