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by Matt de Neef
March 30, 2017
Photography by Indian Pacific Wheel Race
Belgian ultra-endurance cyclist Kristof Allegaert appears to be riding his way to victory in the inaugural Indian Pacific Wheel Race, the 5,500km solo, unsupported bike-packing race across Australia.
Allegaert has now passed through the Australian capital of Canberra, having covered more than 5,000km in the 12.5 days since the race began in Fremantle, Western Australia. The Kortrijk native is now less than 450km from the finish line at the Sydney Opera House, meaning, at his current pace, he’s likely to arrive some time on Friday.
At the time of writing Allegaert is roughly 180km ahead of second-placed Mike Hall, the Briton currently working his way through the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales. While Allegaert’s current lead appears to be a race-winning one, it was just yesterday morning that Hall was leading the race, having overtaken Allegaert while the latter was refuelling at the Falls Creek Alpine Resort.
Hall lead Allegaert through most of yesterday, but the Belgian managed to overtake his fellow pre-race favourite near the Victoria-New South Wales border at roughly 11pm last night. While Allegaert continued on through the night, tackling the longest climb of the race in the dark, Hall opted to rest near the town of Corryong, after struggling with his vision.
Hall didn’t move for more than five hours, allowing Allegaert to open up a sizeable lead heading into the final couple days of racing.
While Allegaert has had a few short stops in the past couple days, he hasn’t had a substantial sleep since his long break on the Back of Falls climb on Tuesday night. While the Belgian looks to have a race-winning lead, it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to power through to Sydney without an extended break.
Behind Allegaert and Hall, Melbourne’s Sarah Hammond continues to hold down third place. While she is roughly 200km behind Mike Hall, and about 100km from starting the long climb up to Cabramurra, she a relatively comfortable 130km ahead of Kai Edel.
While the leaders are approaching the final days of the race, the rest of the field is spread out across the route with riders as far back as the South Australian town of Ceduna, on the eastern edge of the Nullarbor Plain. It will be many days, if not weeks, before the backmarkers roll into Sydney to complete their Indian Pacific Wheel Race.