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by Mark Zalewski
March 30, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Kristoff wins second stage of De Panne, Gilbert extends lead; Avila wins a second stage at Tour de Taiwan; Better than ever at Spring Classics, Durbridge sets his eyes on Flanders and Roubaix; Hall closes in on Allegaert as the Indian Pacific Wheel Race approaches its final 1,000km; Keukeleire out of De Panne with Achilles injury; 15 riders, including stage winner Gilbert, fined for riding sidewalks at De Panne opener; Gamesmanship between Quick-Step Floors and Sagan heading into Flanders; Van Avermaet confident heading into Flanders; Bouhanni extends with Cofidis for two years; Gaviria leaves Classics to focus on Giro; Team Sunweb gives injury updates; Bernard Hinault inducted into Giro hall of fame; Phil Gaimon’s “Worst Retirement Ever,” episode 1: Palomar; Cross is not coming (yet).
For the past 12 days, Mike Hall has been chasing Kristof Allegaert across Australia. Since day one of the inaugural Indian Pacific Wheel Race — a 5,500km solo, unsupported race from Fremantle to Sydney — the pair have occupied the first two spots. Less than 100km has separated the pair for much of that time. But late on Wednesday morning, as the pair tackle the infamous Back of Falls climb in the Victorian Alps, Allegaert is just 15km ahead of Hall, setting up an intriguing battle for the 1,100km that remain.
Allegaert, a three-time Transcontinental winner, appears to have had an uncharacteristically long sleep partway up the 23km climb, his GPS tracker showing a lack of movement for more than eight hours. Trans Am and Tour Divide record holder Hall, meanwhile, was able to close the distance to his fellow pre-race-favourite. For a brief moment it appeared Hall had passed the seemingly stationary Allegaert, but a location update showed the Belgian was in fact 15km further up the road.
Behind Allegaert and Hall, the top three is rounded out by relative newcomer to the ultra-endurance scene and leading Australian rider Sarah Hammond. Hammond has worked her way up through the field and has pared down the gap down to Hall to within 80 kilometres on several occasions.
During a stop in her home town of Melbourne on Monday night, Hammond was asked whether she could catch the riders ahead.
“No I can’t. Seriously, you know this. I can’t,” Hammond told race organiser Jesse Carlsson in a Facebook live interview. “My theory is that they are going to kill each other and on the second last day they’ll just blow up and I’ll just ride by and say ‘See ya!’. That won’t happen!”
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