Kapelmuur Racing Series. Stage 3. The report.
It didn’t look good.
Throughout the week, we hadn’t taken our eyes off the weather forecast. The ominous estimations saw terrible storms, rays, thunders and other apocalyptic disasters. Others, to which we held on with deep rooted faith, casted just some very light rain.
Some days before the race, many riders tried to find out if we would cancel the stage with such adverse weather conditions, to what we answered with conviction (fingers crossed under the table) that races are never canceled unless force majeure, and some rain was not the case.
8 am D day. Driving to the start the wipers were useless with all that rain falling. Impossible to kick off the race like that. However, once there, unbelievably, a million colors light preceded the beautiful changing day we would eventually have.
Nerve-wracking. 1800 meters in just 77 kilometers hurt in the legs of all but the reckless even before the start. At stake the non-negligible number of 34 points for the kings and queens of the mountain; to decide in six climbs: long, tough and vertical.
Not exciting enough? The (almost) unbeatable Venezuelans were racing somewhere else and wouldn’t be there for the stage. This would level the match, putting more pressure on the second and third in the shortlist.
And so it was, the Queen Stage turned upside down a classification that seemed to be decided.
Just a few kilometers after the start an easy climb would warm up the legs for what would be coming later. Long climbs, steep hills, up, down, up and up in a parade of twisted faces and bloody eyes like a never-ending zombie invasion.
Far off, coming out of the fog, two silhouettes, two pink forms, two breaths in the silence struggling to get to the top. Two women, friends and teammates moreover, fighting for the same crown.
As they came closer, the gap, which seemed small in the distance, turned out to be a whole world actually. Graciela far ahead, clenched teeth, eyes on the handlebar; Catalina had given up, the crown was in danger, the judgment is not final, but the mind plays tricks. However, she fights, just two points separate her from Graciela and she has worked hard these months as to hand over that orange QOM jersey so easily.
Far ahead, another point of interest: Talavera, Moreno, Elías and Kike try to get rid of a guest artist. If the relentless fight to cut time wasn’t enough, if the team work to launch the Hummingbird in his way to the mountain throne wasn’t sufficient, one more challenge, they had to do away with an unexpected mate hindering instead of helping.
If the war didn’t present enough battles, a covert combat was being fought in the second category. Empowered by the white and orange leader jersey, the first team cut the five minutes start gap to their pursuers in the table. Right at the moment they conquered the first long climb, these four friends foiled the plans of José, Juanfran, Óscar and Ramón, a team with strong legs and dubious orientation skills, which is stronger each stage and haven’t said it all in this race.
And in the king of the mountain arena new gladiators jump in the pit. One stands out from the others: Edwin abdicates in favor of Talavera, who emerges as lord and master, strong but never absolute. A bit behind come the great under covered. Ingenuous, the undersigned hereby believed they were triathletes, underestimating the power of this team, now second in the table, who have placed two riders in the first positions of the mountain ranking.
In the general standings, the Caribbean team, despite the DNF and the penalty, didn’t fall from the podium yet. Placed third, they are just a bit more than 15 minutes away from the glory, and two minutes from the silver medal.
In the second category the revenge is served up cold and the aspiring contenders are sharpening their knives.
In cat three, Franck and company have lost the thread after this stage and fall to the third position, handing off the batton to Silvio, Jaime, Alfonso and Santiago, who will have to defend with honor the few minutes they have over the other teams.
The same honor and class you all showed once more.
We really appreciate your spirit every second Saturday, no matter the forecast or toughness of the route. Your determination means respect for our work and it does move us.
More editions will come, this is not over at all.
But for now, let’s focus on the case at hand. The last stage will be thrilling, nothing is set on stone and definitely anything can happen.
Work hard, train hard, we’ll handle the rest.