Crossing the Sierpe river at dawn with a new sun welcoming the day, stage 5 of TCC is always a key day due to large amounts of gravel road, a technical and steep descent, the iconic estuary crossing and the heat and humidity that punishes the runner’s when they leave the shade.
Of course, all the talk was about Mathieu Blanchard and Didrik Hermansen, we and they knew it was going to be a key day. The writing was on the wall when Didrik offered Mathieu his hand before the start, it was a clear statement of let the best man win.
In the early stages the duo were matched but it didn’t take long before Mathieu dropped back on one of the early climbs. As the race progressed, this gap opened and at first it was difficult to ascertain if this was a tactic by Mathieu?
At CP2 the gap was 3-minutes, at CP3 it was 6-minutes. Didrik was pushing hard and looking relaxed and in control.
Mathieu by contrast seemed to be off his normal relaxed look. The toll of 4 hard stage was taking its toll and it was clear to see.
Didrik came to the estuary crossing, 4km to go. He jumped on the boat, crossed and pushed for the line.
It was over 20-minutes later when Mathieu arrived. It’s fair to say, the 2023 TCC was decided today. Didrik’s effort, pace and consistency has been text book stage racing.
“After yesterday, I would not have been happy with 2nd. So the plan was to push the pace. Mathieu was having a bad day and he let me go early. I pushed and kept it steady. I opened a gap and more, and more minutes. It was motivating. I had considered taking it easy and saving something for stage 6, but, if Mathieu was having a bad day, I decided to push and get more time. It’s not over, we still have a day to go.” – Didrik Hermansen
“Yes a tough day. But last night I had already decided to go easier. Yesterday I witnessed Didrik push the downhill at an incredible pace. I little bit mad maybe? But for me, it’s February, I have a long season and I can’t risk it all here in Costa Rica. Today we had another downhill like yesterday, he took many minutes again and it’s just not possible for me to get that time back when he runs so well. I came here for an adventure and fun, I didn’t expect these first 4-days and such a pace. I am very happy.” – Mathieu Blanchard
For the women, Katie Schide had a controlled and relaxed day. Her lead is far in advance of 2nd and 3rd and still she was able to take another stage win.
Behind, Tomomi Bitoh started strong leading Paolo Herrera. But as the day passed they switched places and although close together at the end, it was another solid 2nd for Paolo.
Tomorrow, the final stage at 35.7km and with 875m+ is to all intents and purposes a victory loop, if you can call running 35.7km a victory loop. With GC places decided, I don’t anticipate a charge from Mathieu, so, let’s expect a Pura Vida loop of enjoyment.
- Didrik Hermansen 3:59:38
- Mathieu Blanchard 4:22:14
- Dani Jung 4:55:02
- Katie Schide 5:22:47
- Paolo Herrera 5:55:55
- Tomomi Bitoh 6:02:26
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/thecoastalchallenge
Instagram – @iancorlessphotography
Twitter – @talkultra
Web – www.iancorless.com
Web – www.iancorlessphotography.com
Image sales –www.iancorless.photoshelter.com