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D23 – The tipping point

05.05.2024 - The Sun Trip
The Sun Trip The Sun Trip

DAY 24 <-> DAY 22

On Saturday morning, May 4, 2024, Jack was in Prades, France, while Jean-Marc Dubouloz was in Girona, Spain. On paper, only 65 kilometers separated the two participants, almost nothing compared to the distance covered so far… Yet this gap, created the day before by Jack’s genius in the Pyrenees, will be the turning point of this Sun Trip 2024. Jack knows it when he films it early in the morning:

If we look closely at the itineraries of the two champions, we can count around ten moves where their choices were different, but each time one or the other was able to come back together. It was on the 11th different itinerary that the decision was made, with the return passage over the Pyrenees. On paper, this is not the most difficult sector of the Pyrenees, but it offers several options for passage. The one chosen by Jean-Marc, too close to Barcelona’s urban center, was certainly not the best.

By late morning, both men were in France, but the gap wasn’t closing. We might have thought Jean-Marc would come back again on the flat, but this time it was too much. The side wind (from the sea) may have hampered the velomobile, but above all the cloud cover prevented it from fully recharging its batteries. In the Rhone valley, the wind was blowing from the south, putting an end to Jean-Marc’s chances of getting back. Without bright sunshine and with a downwind breeze, Jack’s light bike was faster again.

And… at 3.47pm, Jean-Marc sends all the participants this video, which sounds like an act of surrender, with a very nice message of congratulations.

Regarding Jean-Marc’s criticism of the jury’s decision on the Taroudant accident (see here), the organization fully understands that Jean-Marc may be unhappy. Numerous discussions have taken place on the subject since the accident. The organization fully supports the decision taken by the jury, made up of 8 volunteers (all former participants) and the Sun Trip founder. The decision was taken by a majority of 5 votes and was not subject to appeal (article 11.3 of the rules), as was made clear after Jean-Marc’s complaint.

At the head of the race, Jack Butler didn’t let up and held on to his lead until the end of the day, at the end of his fatigue. See this extract from his video of the day, in which he is moved to receive a banana from a motorist. This is the simple, courageous everyday life of our adventurers:

On the evening of the 22nd day of adventure, on the eve of the finish, the final rankings seemed to be in! Jean-Marc stopped in Avignon, Jack arrived on the outskirts of Montélimar, a gap of 70/80km. Considering that Jack is 184 km from the finish, barring an accident, he should win! Here’s his video reaction on the eve of the finish:

If he completes his masterpiece, he will be the 4th winner in the history of the Sun Trip, the first Englishman and the youngest champion (29 years old)!

In Morocco

We’ll start by welcoming Vincent Lauga to Taroudant in the late morning, followed by Jean-Louis Mérelle at the end of the day. The two braves will rest for a day, before perhaps setting off again together.

Vincent:The ascent to the top of the pass went very smoothly, the hardest part being the 25km of destroyed road, waiting to be repaired following the earthquake: we had to slalom between the holes, through the stones (avoiding vehicles that wouldn’t push to let a bike pass)… and wondering what could break. The result: just one rivet broke, which I repaired straight away… but I’ve got a bit of DIY in store before I go on”.

Jean-Louis: ‘My batteries haven’t been very full since this morning. I’m fluctuating between 40% and 30%, playing with the energy received from the panels. In fact, when my panels supply 330 W to my batteries, I only draw 280 W for my motors. So I can proudly say that I charge my batteries on the way up Tizi N’test … Then at last the Col arrives at the end of an almost flat summit road. There’s a restaurant at the top of the pass, and it’s only natural that I should enter it. I’ve been waiting impatiently for this moment. I swallow a good omelette with peppers and other raw vegetables – excellent! After an hour the cyclist and the bike are well recharged, and it’s time to sit back in the deckchair that is my recumbent bike.” More on his Polarsteps.

The story of the day is also the restart of Vivien Dettwiler, who had been stopped in Agadir since April 30 to repair his engine! He showed patience and skill, with the help of Paul Bermejo, the SunTrippers’ guardian angel. Of course, he won’t be able to catch up with Géry and Baudouin, but he should be able to regain 5th place if his technique holds up!

Finally, a word from Herman Segers. In the morning, he announced his intention to do this loop in the deep south… It’s a 1100km loop, in a very hard zone for biking. Good luck!

And to finish this summary, Luciana Trumpler’s good smile, a man happy to fulfill his dreams on the desert roads of the Sun Trip! Magnificent.

Race position

1. Jack Butler
2. Jean-Marc Dubouloz
3. Kilian & Jonas
4. Géry & Baudouin
5. “Le groupe de Taroudant” (Vincent G, Bertrand, Luciano, Richard).


Other pics of the day

DAY 24 <-> DAY 22

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