This year’s edition of the Omnicane Southern Tropical Challenge saw the event celebrating its 5th birthday. As you can imagine a 4 day mountain bike stage race on the small Tropical Islands of Mauritius is quite special and to see the event grow every year is really remarkable.
This year’s edition saw a couple of changes which included a new starting venue, new routes and new overnight camp sites.
The Dodo Club in Curepipe, which is situated in the middle of the Island, was the new setting for the start of this year’s event. An 8km prologue was held here as well as the start and finish of stage 1 which saw the riders covering 80km. On stage two riders left the Dodo Club for the final time and made their way to Saint Aubin covering a total distance of 62km. Saint Aubin is famous for making great rum and riders had an interesting rum tour and tasting on offer after completion of the days stage. The final day’s 47km stage took riders from Saint Aubin to the renowned finish on the beach at Point d’Esny.
This was my 3rd time taking part in the event and once again I partnered with my good friend Aurelie Halbwachs for the race. We were both quite nervous as we set off for the prologue due to the wet and slippery course from continues rain in Curepipe. Luckily we made it safe over the finish line and were very happy to take first place on the day.
Stage 1 conditions were quite tough as the rain never subsided and made for another wet and muddy day on the bike. With a mere 6km remaining of a 80km stage, I slipped on some wet rocks and cut open my elbow in the process. Up to that point Aurelie and I were in the lead and really wanted to keep it after everything the day’s stage had thrown at us. I don’t want to go into detail as I am sure everyone had their own war stories to tell of chain suck, flat tyres, crashes and more in extreme weather conditions. We managed to win the stage and extended our lead on Team Velolife (Hazel Magill and Kim Le Court)
Sadly I couldn’t continue the next day as the cut in my elbow was too deep and the risk of infection to high. I hate not being able to finish a race and even more so in a stage race where it affects your teammate as well. Luckily Aurelie was very understanding and decided to finish the race for both of us.
Guess this only means that I have to come back next year to finish what I’ve started. Thanks to everyone involved in making the Omnicane Southern Tropical Challenge a great event. With minimal resources and sponsorships, it’s truly impressive to see what they came up with. So Happy Birthday guys! May your event only grow from strength to strength.