A lot of upheaval these last days on the Sun Trip roads!
On the Top 5, the rankings keep on changing behind Raf Van Hulle (Team Hyundai Elevator). The leader has passed today the Western end of the Great Wall of China with an advance of 1000 km of his follower! Nothing seems to get in his way forward.
Mickaël Joguet was 4th on our last ranking but has now been shuffled into second position! He managed to avoid technical issues and keeps an intense cycling pace.
The Colle Brothers (with KU Leuven) are in 3rd position at the moment in spite of their road accident near Almaty, with a 10-hour penalty and broken parts on their machine.
Stéphane Bertrand (with Déclic-Éco and Photowatt) was not as lucky. He was in 2nd position upon entering China, but has now been demoted to the 4th position. On July 17, he himself made the decision to try a daring route through isolated areas of Xinjiang. After numerous police checkpoints, his momentum was finally stopped as he was told the area was forbidden to foreigners. He turned around with courage, without hopping on a truck despite the long stretch of road, 3 full days riding! The organizers decided to take part of the responsibility for this inaccessible road that we were unaware of and that wasn’t brought to our participants’ knowledge. Stephane Bertrand shall receive a 28 hours credit on his Solar Challenge ranking. Note that many participants spontaneously suggested a time compensation for Stephane, most notably Mickaël Joguet (currently in 2nd position), in solidarity with Stephane.
Éric Morel is arriving today in China, in 5th position. He was brilliantly in third position when his engine broke down in Southern Kazakhstan, and he experienced a physical breakdown himself. After a 3-day penalty in Almaty, he’s back on the road with a new engine. He could well get back in front of the others at some point during the 5000 km ahead.
The other Top 10 participants on the Solar Challenge are:
6th – Jack Butler (Team Newquest)
7th – Herman Segers
8th – Laurent Souchet (Team EDF – Bel Air Camp)
9th – Romain Neauport (Team O2feel), Dirk Huyghe & Peter Helsen, ex aequo
They are followed closely by Daniel Jenni
Note that Yann and Bernard Cauquil (with Sunpower) were disqualified from the Solar Challenge) after choosing to put their bike on a train on more than 1000 km, in order to repair their broken wheel in Almaty.
At the back of the pack, our adventurers were sadly the victims of catastrophic weather conditions. Many are later than expected but are fighting to stay in the game. Bravo!
Some are now behind the date we use as a reference for the last participants to be crossing the Oural River/Caspian Sea, July 20. They have been advised that they were behind schedule considering our 100 days limit to arrive in Guangzhou. Some have heard from us that they should consider turning around. They remain the captains of their adventure.