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D18 – Back to Spain!

30.04.2024 - The Sun Trip
The Sun Trip The Sun Trip

DAY 19 <-> DAY 17

Who could have imagined that the fastest participants in the Sun Trip 2024 would emerge from Morocco with the last of them still to return? But that’s exactly what happened yesterday, after another exceptional day for Jean-Marc Dubouloz and Jack Butler.

Before going into more detail about their chase, let’s return to the Taroudant base camp, where a number of participants also crossed paths. Early this morning, Swiss rider Vivien Dettwiler arrived in Taroudant in 4th place. By the time he had passed the ramparts of the old town and reached the hotel, he was able to greet the Germans, but there was no time to share breakfast with them. Kilian and Jonas set off again after 2 nights here, determined to defend 3rd place and discover the south of Morocco! Look at their excitement at the sight of the first strips of sand, before the Atlantic checkpoint:

They’ll be riding all the way to Guelmin, which is the most southerly point of the entire route, after a day of over 250 km! What class!

Avant le checkpoint de Sidi Ifini

In Taroudant, the atmosphere is more relaxed for the 2 teams, who are resting for 24 hours. The Belgians Géry and Baudouin are staying with friends, but for Vivien the break in Taroudant also means repairing his bike. He’ll get help from the many cycle craftsmen in the town, as well as from Paul Bermejo, our guardian angel in southern Morocco..

Further north in Morocco, Richard Defay is still on his own in 6th position. He passes the Oualidia checkpoint after a lot of rain, then heads south towards Marrakech and tomorrow’s mountains. Here we share a video shot on the sunny National 7.


Just above him, a band of SunTrippers forms up, including Vincent Gallego, Luciano Trumpler, Herman Segers, Bertrand Goodenhooft, with surprise guest Jean-Philippe Maurice, who was unable to take part in the adventure due to a medical problem, but who will be riding at his own pace in Morocco.

Further north, Vincent Lauga approaches Rabat, while at the end of the day there’s a new arrival in Morocco: Jean-Louis Mérelle. The Frenchman had to wait all day in Tarifa for a boat, which was announced early in the afternoon and then delayed due to damage (more on that later…). Extract from his logbook: “After an hour we arrived (finally) in Tangier… I was a little seasick… I get out of the harbor and it’s a real rush! Cars, pedestrians, bicycles, cats, strange vehicles (not just mine), cross and criss-cross. But if you stay zen, everything goes smoothly – you just have to trust. Here, traffic regulations are not a priority, and fortunately things often work out very well.

As Jean-Louis takes his first turns on the wheel in Morocco, the leaders are on their way out of the country! Before that, they will have been chasing each other all day, still with an advantage of around an hour for Jean-Marc Dubouloz. It’s important to bear in mind that both men don’t want to concede a single minute to the other. From 6.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m., every choice of route counts, and every little break is meticulously planned. Here’s how it looks in tension, with this video taken by Jean-Marc:

Still an hour apart, the two men then passed Chefchaouen, the “blue city”, the last Moroccan checkpoint of the adventure.

Then came the highlight of the 18th day! At around 7 p.m., it became clear that Jean-Marc Dubouloz would be able to catch the evening ferry, scheduled to depart at 8 p.m.. In the morning, this probability was considered low, as the weather was expected to be bad on their route. At this point we don’t know if Jean-Marc has a ticket, but we get this message from Jack: “The ferry is full, I can’t book! At 7.35pm (local time), the Frenchman arrives at the port, seems to be heading for the cash desks, then we see on the GPS map his point reach the quay, just before 8pm. Good for him! But at 8:03 p.m. Jack also appears at the port, without a ticket. 20 minutes later we receive this video, Jack has boarded with Jean-Marc, one minute before the gates close! He owes his good fortune to the boat’s delay (which Jean-Louis Mérelle had told us about earlier in the day).

In application of the rules laid down before the start, the two men will set off again the next day, Tuesday April 30, in the same time. Jean-Marc Dubouloz has lost his lead to this twist of fate. By the time they returned to Europe, there were still 1900 km to go to the finish in Chambéry, and… it’s all over again for the two leaders!

Retour à la case départ !

Position on the evening of the 18th

1. Jean-Marc Dubouloz
2. Jack Butler
3. Kilian & Jonas
4. Vivien Dettwiller
5. Géry & Baudouin

Live Map :

Other photos of the day 

DAY 19 <-> DAY 17

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