Racers in The Andes Trail expedition competed during four months from the equator near Quito in Ecuador to the most southern city in the world, Ushuaia in Argentina. Belgian Peter Beullens proved the strongest. Dutchman Erik Volger was second and Martin Neitzke from Germany completed the podium. Lea Degen from Switzerland took victory in the women's race.
"The Andes Trail" is a unique cycling race expedition with a length of 11,000 kilometres. It passes through and over the longest mountain range in the world. A group of 34 cyclists left Quito on August 6 and finished after 107 stages at the Beagle Channel in Ushuaia, nicknamed the "End-of-the-World".
The riders, from 12 different countries, had to overcome the most extreme conditions. The route doesn't always follow paved roads, and the trail varied from rough, sandy tracks to riverbeds, and from old railroads to salt lakes. The high Andes passes, the thin air and the Patagonian wind and weather conditions make "The Andes Trail" to one of the most challenging bicycle race expeditions.
It was already clear from the start in Ecuador that the competition would turn into a race among three riders. Dutchman Volger was strong on the paved sections, German Neitzke gained a lot time on the unpaved passages, and Beullens was strong in all kind of circumstances.
Neitzke had a bad accident when he hit with a donkey while riding downhill at full speed in Bolivia. The young German recovered soon, but an overall victory was gone.
Volger lost a lot of time on the unpaved stages and surrendered definitely during the windy climb of Volcano Tromen in Patagonia. The Belgian entrepreneur Beullens toughed it out in all conditions and proved to be the best endurance athlete, physically as well as mentally.
Lea Degen dominated among the women. She arrived on most stages as first female rider. She was joined on the podium by Rachel Dieckmann from Australia and Anna Rimark from Sweden.
The Andes Trail will not happen until 2011 - instead the organizers, Bike Dreams, will run the Timbuktu Tour November 18, 2011 to January 16, 2012. However, racers will be back for the next edition of theAndes Trail in August of 2012.