With a hilly course and a tricky weather on between 130-171 km, the first leg of the Sun Trip Tour 2017 was not a simple sightseeing day for the participants!
The start from downtown Clermont-Ferrand to Plateau de Gergovie went well, with a single technical issue for the KU Leuven Team. With the help of the organizers, Bram and Jonathan could quickly fix their torque arm and get back on the road again until le Puy-en-Velay.
Already from the first day, participants showed solidarity. Small groups formed around different courses as they tried to find their way and help each other. We’d like to salute the action of Béatrice, Yannick and Zab who came back on their steps on the Croix des Gardes pass in order to help disabled suntripper Jean-Louis Machado with his first puncture on the trip.
At the front of the group, Stéphane Bertrand managed to reach first the magnificent pilgrimage town of Puy-en-Velay, knowing that this year, speed isn’t rewarded by any challenge. Its Michel Bertet and Louis Parienté who earned the badge for the Super Suntripper challenge. This new challenge aims at encouraging a wide diversity of itineraries and landscapes in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region. The team was the only one to head West when leaving Clermont-Ferrand, riding a total of 171 km on this leg.
On Sunday evening, the battery levels were low and the people tired, since participants were slowed down by the thunderstorm and violent showers. 17 teams managed to reach the arrival before 5 PM, the cut-off time for optional challenges.
In the evening, two participants (Ryan Gillespie and Christian Noiret) were picked up by the assistance truck since they were not able to pursue on the stage. Team Smile and Indian participant Sushil Reddy joined the rest of the group at 8:52 PM without electricity and exhausted, but now under a thunderstorm of claps from their peers.
Christophe Dugué was rewarded for the first Photo Challenge with a bucolic crops field photo with the Puy de Dôme in the background.
On the morning of the second stage, Ryan Gillespie and one of the Smile Team participants went straight to Lans-en-Vercors after charging their solar bikes on the assistance truck, hoping to get their machines fixed and come back on the Sun Trip 2017 adventure on stage 3.