Tough, boggy stage 5 challenges racers

Two more days to go in TransWales

"That was hardcore today," said one rider after finishing the fifth linking and fourth and final special stage of the TransWales. "Bloody hard, but there was awesome, awesome singletrack. And lots of it." The elation was compounded by the shear brutality of the conditions today as the fair weather bubble finally burst early this morning, but also by the fatigued legs and aching bodies.

With the night special stage meaning a late finish for all the previous night, the beginning of today's linking stage was put back to half nine - perfectly in time for a fresh loosing of the wet stuff. But given the highs of the previous day's (and night's) riding, it was going to take some serious amounts of the wet stuff to dampen the riders' spirits.

The linking stage rolled out of Cilycm and quickly headed up hill and into the trees. The wet weather made the going considerably harder than previous days and, as with all events, it was the backmarkers who had to contend with the chewed up trail left for them by hundreds of pairs of tyres. With tough climbing made even tougher by the conditions, the day descended into a real war of attrition for the already weary riders. However, nothing good ever comes easy and despite the soggy conditions, the trail eventually took the riders into the heart of the much anticipated Brechfa forest. And it didn't disappoint.

Built by downhiller and skills coach Rowan Sorrell, Brechfa's Raven trail (graded black) is a new school sensation: riding it is like surfing with huge carving lines, pump and jumps into berms, steep switchbacking turns and massive table tops; most of which is all rollable. Course designer John Lloyd made much use of the Raven trail as the linking stage wrapped itself in knots to make the most use of the unique trails hidden in Brechfa Forest. For some, the technicality of the Raven proved too much and too intimidating, but for those who grabbed the riding by the throat and refused to be cowed it was a skills expanding experience as they pushed back both boundaries and perception of their abilities, and reaped huge serotonin results for their troubles.

After the natural highs the Raven brought the riders to the fourth and final special stage; but in contrast to the full-on riding of the Raven, the special stage made use of part of the green route. Characterised by fast and pumpy singletrack that became more difficult the faster you rode it, the green route climbed from the off up fire road before dropping back on itself along undulating singletrack and a sequence of bermed turns, before another fireroad stretch flowed into more singletrack. It continued in the same vein for 10km with short sharp climbs blended with ever increasing singletrack descents. It was a tough proposition with headwinds and sporadic driving rains to contend with.

With this being the final special stage, the organisers will be announcing the results tomorrow night (which will be included in tomorrow's report); however, tonight has seen the presentation of the lights night time special stage and the confirmation that although Johnathan Pugh took the win in the men's solo category, he wasn't the fastest rider on the night: that honour fell to Dan Lewis (Royal Air Force CA) who clocked 19 minutes and 35 seconds, 16 seconds quicker than Pugh; however as Dan is racing the men's team category together with Neil Richardson, his 'win' awards him indefinite bragging rights rather than genuine silverware.

By the time riders finally arrived at camp for the night at rugby club the strains and stresses of five relentless days of big riding was showing; some riders broke down on the line after completing the stage, whilst others quietly crumpled obliviously into their sleeping bags.

It was certainly a tough day all-round but the camaraderie of the assorted riders who at the beginning hardly knew one another, and yet now are close friends, helped to ensure that every rider came through to the end, come what may. The finish in Builth Wells is now firmly in sight and just two day's ride away - and with no special stages to really wring the legs of the final ounce of juice.

Day 6 preview

Tomorrow will see the sixth linking stage take the riders 71km and 2,400m of climbing to the smallest town in Britain, Llanwrtyd Wells (and also home to the World Bog Snorkelling Championships) and within genuine spitting distance of journey's end.

Race note: Full results of today's stage will follow tomorrow.

Results

General classification after special stage 3
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
Solo women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marika Covre (Ideal - Vivibike)29:26:01 
2Rickie Justine Cotter (Cytek)0:01:21 
3Amy O'Loughlin (Beyond 925)0:12:58 
Solo men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jonathan Pugh (Clee Cycles KCNC High 5)29:08:38 
2Josh Ibbett (IronHorse-Extreme)0:04:20 
3Jon Bowie (TriSmart)0:30:21 
Solo veteran men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Steve Heading (Whyte Racing)29:12:27 
2Gareth Bowyer (Ffasiynau Anabelle Fashions)0:04:58 
3Jonathan Edwards: 29:18:41  
Mixed Team
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Maddie & Jay Horton (Team Certini)29:16:38 
2Fi Spotswood & Michael Tomlinson (South Fork Racing)0:01:39 
3Theresia & Werner Baumker (Team Charl '77)0:19:26 
Veteran men's teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Fulvio Damian & Elvo Del Puppo (Ideal - ViviBike)29:17:44 
2David Rielly & Steve Partington (Isle of Man Fire Service)0:17:09 
3Graham Denny & Shane Dickenson (Cytek)0:31:49 
Women's teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Joy Bringer & Camilla Edlin (BAD By Association)30:01:40 
Men's teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Dan Lewis & Neil Richardson (Royal Air Force CA)29:13:00 
2Andy Jones & Ben Jones (Clee Cycles KCNC)0:01:28 
3Brendan Kay & Simon Gough (Army Cycling)0:08:06 
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