A Tough Stage, Punishing Winds, And A Sweet End In Timna Park
After a short, dynamic prologue and a rough opening stage which included two long and grueling climbs, wild weather dominated the third day of the competition, the central "queen" stage of Samarathon 2019 - 1,100 meters of climbing over 86 km.
If the opening stage of Samarathon 2019 was a clear show of intent for the leading pair, Soren Nissen of Luxembourg and Cory Wallece of Canada, to dominate the race, the second day was to impress the point, and today they did it again.
The strong winds blowing Thursday night kept many cyclists worried about the weather for the third day of the competition. Luckily in the morning on the starting line near Kibbutz Naot Smadar, they were greeted with very low temperatures but almost no wind.
The race rolled out under escort when two local motorcyclists led the group of riders into the kibbutz to the cheers of the kibbutz children and residents. The exit to the terrain in the direction of the oil pipeline route officially signaled the start of the battle.
Riders rode fast and as one on the oil route until the first climb, which was reached in around 4 kilometers from the start. The oil pipeline route is known for its painful climb, and this, too, did not disappoint and there were signs the peloton was starting to break. Over the next three kilometers, and three more climbs the peloton separated into small groups of 6-10 riders.
After 9km they entered the Israel Bike Trail and as opposed to yesterday, they headed south. This time, the serpentine like trails of the Kasuy Ascent brought the riders towards the great sand dune. From there a fast jeep road took them towards the fence of the Ovda base - today the direction is south and the riders started to get a little taste of the wind that awaited them later on.
"Shayarot" Cliffs singletrack took the riders south as it runs along the cliff and provides spectacular views of the Arava Valley. Today, riding this singletrack was harder than yesterday due to the southerly wind, which grew stronger every hour. After the Ronen family's pampering feeding zone at the 30th kilometer, the track drew the riders towards the top of Ma'aleh Zugan, which is not easy at all, and today with the southern winds that swept the bare hills, it was particularly difficult.
From there, the riders descended to a fast but challenging section of Nahal Zugan; a singletrack that runs through the riverbed between rocks, grooves and vegetation that requires careful poise and focus. This was followed by the "sweet" part of the day. If the first stage is defined by its two significant ascents (Shacharut and Ketura), the second stage is defined by the unforgiving section between the Ovda base to "Beer Milhan". This grueling 15-kilometer section runs on a wide but largely unpaved jeep road. On the menu are all the path's ailments, riding in a streambed and all the while slowly climbing with a strong head wind. Anyone who found himself alone in this section suffered greatly, so many pairs chose to cluster and fight the wind together.
At the 50km point, in the middle of the punishing section, the riders reached an aid station with water distribution by Neviot and Isotone of PowerRade. Just the place to get some energy before the next feeding zone at 58 km out, where the riders received the personal care of the Shimano team and personal eyeglass cleaning by Itzik Stern of TAL Optics - Oakley Israel.
Immediately after this treat from the feed zone crew, the riders began climbing Har Berech. This was to be what everyone was waiting for, the Queen / King of the mountain of the Cycling Academy and Oakley Israel. In this section each rider is timed according to strava and the three fastest riders (women and men) receive prizes from Oakley and the academy.
Har Berech is the days' most significant ascent reaching the highest point of the Stage, and all that remains is to descend. The singletrack descent is technical, challenging and requires skill and caution including a little walking. There is no shame here.
The single continues flowing downward until the Sayarim ascent. Riding down this gnarly descent you reach the Etek riverbed. The ride here today was quick and flowing, and like horses who smell their stables the riders flew back to the entrance of Timna Park. But it did not end there...
As soon as they entered Timna, the last surprise of the day awaited, a short, steep climb to the viewpoint above Nimra . Fading into the easiest gear on the bike and giving everything left to give on the return ride, a quick descent straight to the finish line on the shores of spectacular Lake Timna and the indulging riders village.
Stage 2 Results, Day 2
1st Place: Cory Wallece, Soren Nissen
2nd Place: Shlomi Haimy, Guy Sessler
3rd Place: Ori Leonzini, Tomer Zaltsman
1st Place: Naama Noyman, Gali Weiberg
2nd Place: Nathali Shneitter, Noga Korem
3rd Place: Sandi Griffin, Silke Lehnhof
1st Place: Ilan Edelson, Debora Ohayon
2nd Place: Sophie Giobane, Frederic Gombert
3rd Place: Hadas Weiss, Yoni Reisch
Grand Masters 50+
1st Place: Gil Kashi, Ronen Shirizly
2nd Place: Yakov Cohen, Ziv Anafi
3rd Place: Gil Olshinsky, Oran Uzrad
1st Place: Lior Zach Maor, Lior Zehave
2nd Place: Gal Zachor, Nadav Lugasy
3rd Place: Roy Haker, Daniel Zigmond
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