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D22 – The duel for victory continues!

04.05.2024 - The Sun Trip
The Sun Trip The Sun Trip

DAY 23 <-> DAY 21

It’s becoming difficult to count the number of leader changes in this final race between Jean-Marc Dubouloz and Jack Butler. We’d say there were a dozen chases between the two champions, with at least two more on May 3!

In the early hours of the morning, Jack set off first from their joint stopover town, but on the flat he was soon caught by Jean-Marc. The Frenchman easily took the lead, and then his track visibly pulled towards the outskirts of Barcelona. Too much according to some, but it’s all in line with Jean-Marc’s general strategy. Excerpt from Jack’s video of the day:

Unsurprisingly, Jack decided to turn left and cross the Pyrenees. His motivation seemed to be at its peak: “I intend to make these days my toughest human effort of my entire journey to the sun so far. I can’t let it get me down without a fight. We’ve come so far. If I don’t get to the bottom of this now, I may regret it forever”.

By mid-afternoon, the question was whether the young Englishman would have enough juice (in his batteries and legs) to switch to the other side of the Pyrenees before 9pm. On Jean-Marc Dubouloz’s side, there was no reaction or communication until the 9pm check-in, when he appeared in a supermarket parking lot in Girona: “There was no accommodation available in the town, so I had to camp there!” A sign that the 2021 champion is taking the competition offered by Jack seriously, he prefers to ride until the last minute allowed, even if it means sleeping in a parking lot…, rather than cutting back a little to find a bed!

In the end, Jack ends up in Prades, after seeing the Mont-Louis solar oven. He’s about 60 km ahead of Jean-Marc. It’s undeniably a masterstroke, but it’s impossible to say whether it will be enough to resist the velomobile over the 500 km of flat roads leading to the final finish… Excerpt from his video of the day:

Followers’ opinions on the outcome of the race diverge, as shown by the results of yesterday’s call for analysis. We not only asked a few former SunTrippers for their opinions, but also offered everyone the chance to give their views on this exciting end to the race. Jean-Marc is considered the favorite by many, but with conditions! Here are a few extracts:

Bernard Cauquil (2015 winner): “Jean Marc and Jack should arrive on Sunday or Monday at the latest if the weather is bad. They’re in a handkerchief, they’ll have the same weather conditions, the difference will be on the choice of routes. Jack has every interest in keeping his route as short as possible, despite the steeper terrain. Jean Marc, on the other hand, knows the final route well, and is an expert in the best routing for his velomobile. The duel between the 2 protagonists will be very close right to the end. Victory will come down to a few hours or perhaps just a handful of minutes”.

Patrice Plozner (unfortunate participant in ST24): “In view of the not too favorable weather forecast in the Rhône valley, we’ll have to redouble our muscular efforts to cross the finish line. If Jean Marc finds a few rays of sunshine, he’ll have the advantage thanks to the aerodynamics of his bike. On the other hand, if the wind isn’t too strong and the clouds aren’t too far away, Jack could come out on top. But I’d say that my favorite, Jean Marc, will find all the resources he needs to win the adventure”.

Claude Brouir (SunTripper 2021)  : “This Friday morning, with the sun shining brightly, JM will be digging in, but not too much as we have to climb, but as the weather will become overcast and the downwind wind will pick up, Jack will stabilize and even return in the afternoon and at the end of the day, to be almost back in France. JM’s lead this evening will be crucial… Tomorrow, Saturday, JM returns to a land well known to him and his router; he’ll have to start managing given the weather forecast; the headwind will be to his advantage, but the lack of morning and evening sunshine will put him at a disadvantage… I can see them maintaining the gap or even increasing it a little during the day… On Sunday, for the finish, the lack of sunshine and the slight climb will force JM to overtake him, while the strong tailwind will carry Jack, who will be back in JM’s rearview mirror… I can see JM winning but with a tiny gap over Jack… but it’s going to be tense all the way to the end.”

Eric Morel (3rd in Sun Trip 2015 and 2018) :”Only 2 days to go, with little or no wind, sunshine and rolling roads. I’ve got the impression that it’s all going to be a bit of a fight. But I think Jean Marc will be less able to exploit these conditions. And I know that Jack is capable of getting into the dark red without putting his foot down to finish first. He looks like he’s got the pedal to the metal and isn’t tired. It’s going to be a great end to the race”.

Yann Cauquil (SunTripper 2018) : “In my opinion, the key day will be Saturday, because it will be cloudy, and these conditions may allow Jack to do well.
If the cloud cover is relatively thick, with little solar energy, Jack’s lightweight machine could benefit. Saturday’s mileage will also be crucial: a Sunday finish would be possible with clement weather, unlike Monday, with very unfavorable conditions in the Lyon region. Overall, I see Jean-Marc winning, with a lead that will be counted in minutes rather than hours. But if the finish takes place on Monday afternoon, I’m leaning more towards Jack, drenched in rain, ahead of Jean-Marc by a whisker!”

Olivier Guyot (SunTripper 2019) : “The less sun, and especially the more tailwind, the more the window of opportunity for Jack to win opens up, if he feels like using all his remaining strength to keep pushing the pace higher (in the same way he reached the ferry, almost vomiting from effort and exhaustion). If the weather is fine and there’s no tailwind, and/or Jack doesn’t feel like winning at all costs, JM is the likely favorite, given that they have no technical/external problems.”

In the other reactions we received, some, like Matthieu Chanfreau, wondered about the case of Jack: “At the last suntrip, the shrouded recumbents were way ahead of the others. Here, what kind of alien is Jack, who, with just a few panels and an unclad bike, is able to keep up with the defending champion Jean-Marc? I’m hoping to get an analysis from the pros and former winners… Is Jack a professional or similar? What’s his training? His diet (pinding?)? Anyway, bravo for maintaining such a high level“.

To this we can reply that Jack is not a professional cyclist, but for some time now he has been a guide with Grand Tours project, he’s paving the way for cyclists to do the whole Tour de France or Tour of Italy! He also told us about his intensive physical preparation for the Sun Trip 2024, as well as tracking everything Jean-Marc Dubouloz has done on his Strava account! A preparation worthy of the feat.

Another theory is gaining ground among followers: that of a hand-in-hand finish!

“One of the values of the Suntrip is solidarity, and it would be a superb finish to see them cross it together, side by side. Because the real winner of the story is the solar-powered bicycle, which is proving to be a gentle and safe means of transport, enabling beautiful journeys and auguring a less polluting future, at least for leisure activities” Anonymous testimonial.

“In addition to the external conditions, fatigue, age and mental state will be more than a match for her when she knows that every pedal stroke brings her closer to the finish.
It seems more sensible to me to think that the sporting effort will be human by finishing the race together, showing in addition to the 6 Moroccan companions that the sun trip is also a human adventure.” Charles-Pirlot.

“They’ve been through a lot. I think they’ll go together” Jonas (ST24 participant).

To date, none of the leaders has shown the slightest sign of proposing to finish together, but it remains a possible option. If it’s the participants’ wish, it will be perfectly respected by the organization.

The actual arrival of Jean-Marc and Jack should take place this Sunday, May 5, probably at midday or in the afternoon. Everyone is welcome to come and greet the champions in Chambéry, at the Fontaine des Eléphants. An arrival ceremony with local authorities is also planned for Monday May 6 at 5.30pm, at Chambéry Town Hall.

We also ask you not to follow the participants on the road, for the regularity of the race and to respect their concentration. Thank you for your understanding.

In Morocco

On the evening of this 22nd stage, the participants are scattered from El Jadida to Guelmine, via the Tizi N’Test and the Boulmane Dadès sector. They’re everywhere!

In the challenge for third place, it’s pretty much status quo between Kilian & Jonas and Géry & Baudouin. They’ve left the desert behind them.

It’s worth noting that the “Taroudant group” took to the road again, all the way to Sidi Ifni, in bright sunshine. Nobody seems to have opted for a swim, but for the first time, some participants took the time to visit Legzira beach! Herman Segers set sail last night, so he was no longer with Vincent, Bertrand, Richard and Luciano. The Belgian had floated the idea of making a detour into the Moroccan Sahara, towards Laayoune… We’ll find out today whether he’ll attempt this great desert journey! In the meantime, Herman is the new 5th in the Sun Trip 2024!

Behind them, Vincent Lauga managed to reach the summit of the Tizi N’Test pass at 8.30pm (Moroccan time). He had to make the climb without any money, as the ATM in Asni wasn’t working. “It’s very difficult to ride at 5/10 km/h so as not to break anything on this track…” he said, before being able to warm up at the inn at the top of the pass! It’ll be early Saturday in Taroudant.

Finally, we await Jean-Louis Mérelle’s full account of the start of his ascent, which began yesterday with a meeting with earthquake victims from September 2023. What could be more beautiful than pitching a tent next to theirs and taking the time to chat? That’s the spirit of the Sun Trip adventure!

Race positions

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

Live Map :

Other pics of the day

DAY 23 <-> DAY 21

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