It’s something you simply can’t prepare for. To start the race with grand ambitions, then find one’s self in conditions of almost 104 degrees, and on top to try and make up time after four days, it was a grueling start to the race. When form finally starts to improve, you have to deal with a sudden allergic reaction. Exhaustion, a swollen face, red eyes … all obstacles for a rider that simply refused to give up. The pay-off for this fighting spirit was only suffering to the end.
The swollen face belonged to Alban Lakata. The mishap really started on Thursday during the fifth stage. Instead of working upwards from eighth place in the second half of the week, they stayed at this position with a total of 1:13:38 behind the winners Nino Schurter and Matthias Stirnemann from Switzerland. “We are naturally disappointed, because our expectations were different. The positive side is, we fought until the finish line,” explains Kristian Hynek, taking eighth place in the overall classification. “Our team did a great job, therefore it is even more unfortunate that we couldn’t return the favor.” Alban Lakata had a similar view.
“As a team, we came together magnificently, everything seemed to fit. Unfortunately, health did not play along,” says the Albanator. “In fact, I thought I had the allergy under control, but the heat might’ve made my immune system more vulnerable. It was possibly already a problem before the fifth stage.” The main focus for the runner-up world champion and third in the world is to recover and to refocus for the next challenges that lie ahead.
Taking 14th place overall, Erik Kleinhans and Jeremiah Bishop confirmed that they raced quite well.