A 108-foot tall statue dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Shiva could only be seen today if you knew where to look. Rain had darkened the skies at the top of a 12km ascent made predominately from volcanic cobbles. Yannick Lincoln had no time to pay proper homage to this statue, let alone visit the many colourful shrines placed around a lake. He had a race to win.
After passing the sacred lake called Grand Bassin and the massive shrine, the riders took an undulating asphalt section. Once a year, Mauritian pilgrims walk on this road barefoot from their homes - situated anywhere on the island. Only now Lincoln rode in the opposite direction, on a one-way mission to Tamarin. He was hell-bent to enter the Black River Gorges National Park with enough time to seal his overall win.
After three stages on Friday, today's queen stage was always going to unlock any mysteries about the tough men on the tour. At the refreshment station at 45km Lincoln had ripped open a 2:10 lead over Gil Guillaumin. The rider from Reunion - Guillaumin - was making a bid for second place. He had outwitted his fellow countryman Yannick Cornille on the seaside sections. Cornille was fading fast. He was over nine minutes back, along with Dany Vogel and Christian Emmanuel.
Gordon Brown, a rider from South Africa, described the section parallel to the sea. "It was beach brush followed by ravines. There was one section where it was like a climbing-wall."
That wasn't the only type of climbing to be done. Lincoln described the climb up to the Grand Bassin. "It was so hard - very bad - because of the rain. Only the rocks remained."He was fully attentive the whole day and not just on the rocky ascent. "This is the kind of race I like," he said, explaining his dominating performance over the course.
Cornille later revealed the reasons why he fell behind. "I had a mechanical, as well as crashing." A flesh wound on his arm showed the severity of his impact. Cornille had impressed early in the tour with a prologue and downhill win. Now, his proud shoulders slunk; the Reunion rider's day had turned out differently from his dream.
It was evident from the outset that there would be a big classification shake-up. A strong local overall contender Christophe Gerard missed the early move and never made it back into contention.
Technical skills were summoned in the Black River sanctuary singletrack. The yellow jersey wearer emerged with over five minutes' lead showing his prowess. A windy plateau section weaving through sugar cane fields prepared the riders for the downhill to Tamarin. Lincoln made short work of the descent. He arrived at the finish line having made sure the long journey from Ferney was well worth it.
Guillaumin followed him by 18:46. He was clearly ecstatic with his second place finish. "It is fantastic for me." A strong performance moved him into second place overall with one stage remaining.
He fought for every meter, not only as a result of having slightly less form than last year, but also because of the elements. "The conditions today were very extreme: rain, sun, wind and very dangerous roads."
Most of the riders fighting for lower positions didn't have a prayer of finishing alongside Lincoln - not with his race-winning shape. Perhaps they should have stopped at the 108-foot shrine and asked for outside intervention, but even then, Lincoln would have probably reigned supreme.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|2||Gil Guillaumin (ACPR)||0:18:46|
|3||Georget Burel (ACPR)||0:28:03|
|4||Cedric Passee (Standard Bank)||0:35:32|
|5||Armand Le Court De Billot||0:38:21|
|6||Christian Emmanuel (ACPR)||0:39:00|
|7||Dany Vogel (Germany)||0:50:49|
|8||Andreas Freiter (Germany)|
|14||Olivier Le Court||1:15:29|
|18||Arnaud De Commarmond||1:21:20|
|19||Stephane Payet (ACPR)||1:23:50|
|20||Michael Kedhoo (Standard Bank)||1:29:51|
|25||Daniel Chaussalet (ACPR)||2:01:42|
|26||Sully Robert (ACPR)|
|28||Jean Philippe (Jnr) Tyack||2:12:17|
|29||Jean Philippe Tyack|
|32||Xavier De Chalain||3:21:46|
|33||Andre Le Blanc||3:28:56|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|2||Gil Guillaumin (ACPR)||0:26:49|
|3||Georget Burel (ACPR)||0:37:35|
|4||Christian Emmanuel (ACPR)||0:47:38|
|6||Cedric Passee (Standard Bank)||1:03:57|
|7||Andreas Freiter (Germany)||1:05:24|
|9||Dany Vogel (Germany)||1:06:57|
|12||Armand Le Court De Billot||1:36:28|
|13||Olivier Le Court||1:38:07|
|14||Arnaud De Commarmond||1:38:52|
|17||Stephane Payet (ACPR)||1:52:24|
|19||Michael Kedhoo (Standard Bank)||2:05:09|
|22||Daniel Chaussalet (ACPR)||2:31:17|
|25||Jean Philippe (Jnr) Tyack||2:51:21|
|26||Jean Philippe Tyack||2:53:08|
|27||Sully Robert (ACPR)||3:05:02|
|30||Andre Le Blanc||5:00:12|