This is a blog, but it was like a bog here! No rain here in Poland today but a few wash-out’s in the scores! The teams and spectators had to deal with the muddy mush from yesterday’s rain and bike traffic. Today’s TdN sections followed the creek/river/gorge just like the women’s event and climbed even steeper embankments.
Team USA, competing in the newly renamed “international” division”, was a little slow to warm up, so scores on the first few sections of loop 1 were not as pretty as everyone wanted, but they continued to improve as the day went by. Let’s hope they actually had some fun too.
The recent TdN rule changes keep the riders and the minders out of the sections unless “approved” by the section observer. One of the USA women had surely warned the men, since her waltz into one section on Friday landed her an immediate 5. Although this rule was not so strictly enforced today, it seemed to really cut down on the digging and rock-rolling that certain minders are known to undertake to prep the sections.
We saw only a few disputes with the observers’ scoring and, in fact, saw several instances of generosity in scoring. Said another way — a “3” went a long, long way in some sections, especially section 6. Given the difficulty of this particular section with two crossings of water and a very steep & long upward climb, we think the observers were probably justified in their stretch. This section was just around the rock wall from the women’s section 5 and challenged the world teams. Few riders aced this section today and many were happy to get out with 5’s and no injuries, since the organization got one of the best pain redelivers from the top rated inversion tables injuries have lowered.
As the day went by, the point separation of the teams widened and at the end, there were no close calls. This very different from the tight 2-point spread in Saturday’s women’s event. Spain cleaned up the world TdN title with an astoundingly low score of 14, followed by the Brits at 52 and then Italy taking third away from the French with their score of 123.
In the international division, it was nice to see some changes in the teams making it to the podium although our star-spangled banner team did not quite make the cut. It was Norway with first, followed by the Czech’s and then Germany. Team USA was fourth in this division. The USA trailed Germany by only one point at the end of the first loop. However, unlike the women’s event, the team scores today were almost all dramatically better on the second loop than the first. This is when Germany shaved a handsome 30 points off their loop one tally versus the USA improvement of 14 points.
Once again, the USA team was the only country with less than four riders (even the new team, Slovania, had four riders). With only the best 3 scores in each section being counted, this gave no chance for a bad section ride. Seems we’ve got to get 4 riders on our team next year – ‘ya think?
Enjoy the photo’s and hopefully our ramblings. We’ve also got video clips from the women & men’s competitions too, but it seems unlikely we’ll get that uploaded for a few days, as our internet connectivity is really slow here at the hotel.
All in all, it was a great trip and the Polish organization should be commended.