Stage 4 of The Coastal Challenge and today, the runner’s move away from the coast and climb high on the relentlessly rolling terrain that is backed by the Talamanca range.
Steep climbs, steep descents and technical terrain. It’s a tough stage, especially when you add heat and humidity.
Today, was an anticipated key stage for Mathieu Blanchard and Didrik Hermansen, the duo have been closely matched each day and despite Didrik’s best efforts, Mathieu has come 1st each day.
The duo today once again went head-to-head, it’s stunning to watch and also exhausting. The pace is unbelievable and between them it’s impossible to tell who is the most tired.
At each point along the route they were never more than meters apart but for those watching, and knowing the course, the crux would come at the end of the day with a very steep and technical descent to the line.
Didrik threw caution to the wind and attacked. The gap opened and opened and he crossed the line in 4:39:23.
The clock ticked, 1-minute, 2-minutes and Mathieu crossed in 4:42:23, exactly a 3-minute gap. Wow! Seriously exciting racing and then the calculations, had Mathieu held the overall on GC?
Yes, 16:48:32 for Mathieu and 16:49:16 for Didrik. Before stage 4, the 19th edition of the TCC was witnessing an epic race, now stages 5 and 6 are going to be epic. Who’s your money on?
Dani Jung once again placed 3rd looking relaxed despite a sleepless night. He had questioned wether to start, gladly he did.
“I had to do something, I felt during the days I was better than him on the downhill and I was willing to take the risk, I couldn’t believe I would take 3-minutes… It’s a real fun battle, we are neck-and-neck, we are so similar in strength. It’s fun, it’s cool. Nice to finally take a stage. I feel as though I could have pushed harder. I wanted to win and obviously reduce the gap. I am prepared to fight and compete, if I come 2nd so be it, but I will fight!” – Didrik Hermansen
By contrast, Mathieu looked relaxed post-race and he was candid with his thoughts.
“Didrik went down the last decent like a mad man. It was steep, technical with many potential problems. I have a long season ahead and I wasn’t prepared to risk everything here. I feel good, so, let’s see what happens.”
For the women, Katie Schide was a long way clear of any other competition and looked relaxed on the trail. Victory in the 2023 The Coastal Challenge is hers to lose, so, she just needs to run smart over the next two days.
Tomomi Bitoh today ran strong and finished 2nd ahead of 2nd on GC, Paolo Herrera. The gap between the two only 6-minutes.
With no ocean and beaches, today was a contrast of farms, farmland, animals and epic rural vistas. It felt like ‘real’ Costa Rica.
Tomorrow stage 5 with 40.6km and 1670m+.
- Didrik Hermansen 4:39:33
- Mathieu Blanchard 4:42:23
- Dani Jung 5:15:57
- Katie Schide – 6:11:08
- Tomomi Bitoh – 6:40:10
- Paolo Herrera – 6:46:11
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