By Vic Armijo
As recently as Thursday second-place rider Gerhard Gulewicz’s crew remained optimistic of their rider’s chance at still overtaking leader Jure Robic.
“Anything can happen, this is RAAM,” said Gulewicz’s doctor.
But with Robic now having more than a three-hour advantage, any hope for Gulewicz taking his first win are all but over. Still, when asked if he felt that the win was his, Robic replied “it is over when you cross the line,” which barring any unexpected complications, should occur sometime on Friday afternoon.
Australian triathlete Matthew Warner-Smith continues to hold third with a three-and-a-half hour advantage over Swiss rider Thomas Strebel in fourth with Canadian rider Tony O’Keefe holding the fifth position that he took on Wednesday when he passed the top U.S. rider, Kevin Kaiser. Kaiser remains sixth.
Meanwhile back in Wichita, Kansas, the condition of Spanish rider Diego Ballesteros reportedly continues to improve. Doctors at the Surgical Intensive Care Unit of Wesley Medical Center reportedly said that with the rider’s remarkable physical condition he should expect a full recovery from his injuries.
The exact nature of those injuries has not been released to the public but word among the RAAM community is that there were fractured vertebrae and that chances of paralysis are all but ruled out. Ballesteros is said to be in good spirits and it was said that he was joking with visitors and hospital staff.
The 36-year-old attorney and teacher from Barbastro-Huesca, Spain, faces up to two weeks in the hospital, but will not spend that time alone as family members are coming from Spain to join him. The remaining members of his four-rider team, Coanfi Desafio Aspanoa, have driven to Annapolis to return rental equipment and catch their flights home.
Recumbent racer Barbara Buatois is still the leader and is expected to finish late Saturday or early Sunday morning, with a nearly 20-hour advantage over second place rider Michele Santilhano. Barabara Bianchi remains in third. On Thursday afternoon, Amy Xu awoke from a nap and met with her crew. They analyzed what they needed to accomplish to finish within the final time cut-off and decided to continue to race.
But once on the road the fatigue the previous eight days became apparent. Just as quickly as Xu was on the bike, she was off again and her decision to continue was reversed. After having logged nearly two-thirds of the race’s 3,000 miles, she became the second woman to withdraw from RAAM 2010.
Friday morning at 4:21 am the first of the eight-rider relay teams, Team Type 1, rolled into Annapolis with a time of 5 days 10 hours and 48 minutes, falling a bit short of the team’s desire to break its 2009 time of 5 days, 9 hours and 3 seconds. This now three-time champion team is made up entirely of riders with Type 1 diabetes. The team’s message is to prove that people with Type 1 diabetes can still live active, athletic lives. To accomplish feats such as winning RAAM, the team relies on products provided by their sponsors, such as the rapid-acting insulins Apidra and Lantus.
Of great interest is the OmniPod insulin management system, a handheld device with a wireless sensor that attaches to the rider’s arm. It displays real-time blood-sugar levels on its screen without the need to prick a finger. Another arm pod holds an insulin pump, which slowly releases the hormone into a rider’s bloodstream, eliminating the need to stop and inject.
Standings (as of June 18, 10:00 am EST)
- 1. Barbara Buatois (France) 2,558 miles9 days, 18 hours, 37 minutes
- 2. Michele Santilhano (South Africa) 2,341 miles 9 days, 15 hours, 41 minutes
- 3. Sabrina Bianchi (Italy) 2,278 miles 9 days, 13 hours, 35 minutes
- DNF. Amy Xu (USA) 2,043 miles 8 days, 17 hours, 47 minutes
- DNF Sandy Earl (USA) 1,788 miles7 days, 14 hours, 47 minutes
- 1. Jure Robic / Slovenia 2759 miles 8 days, 18 hours, 24 minutes
- 2. Gerhard Gulewicz / Austria 2690 miles 8 days, 17 hours, 41 minutes
- 3. Matthew Warner-Smith/ Australia 2690 miles 8 days, 17 hours, 41 minutes
- 4. Tony OKeefe / Canada 2558 miles 8 days, 12 hours, 49 minutes
- 5. Thomas Strebel / Switzerland 2558 miles8 days, 17 hours, 2 minutes
In the early miles of RAAM 2010 Team Type 1 was on track to break its own record of 5 days, 9 hours and 3 seconds, but headwinds and wet weather slowed them downby nearly two hours over the 3000+ miles.
Which for leader Jure Robic, should happen on Friday afternoon.
While Austrian Gerhard Gulewicz may not have the speed of Jure Robic, his tenacity and work ethic are on a par with any RAAM champion.