TCR No. 8 – about *official* results, stats, penalties update & subjective conclusion

CONTENTS:
1. Official Results
__1.1 Leaderboard
__1.2 Rider status – stats & cases
__1.3 Distances ridden & FMC error
2 Penalty updates
__2.1 General penalty stats
__2.2 Update MNE-border penalty
__2.3 HS07 Austrian highway
3 Concluding remarks… (subjective)

First of all: Congratulations to all fellow riders!! No matter if you finished or not. It was a tough race and fantastic adventure. And also: Thanks to all dotwatchers, followers and friends of the race! Without you it would all just be half the fun.

With this one I want to provide an update to my previous post; now referring to the official results (as opposed to just preliminary) of this year’s Transcontinental Race No. 8. I think that previous post may be interesting to some nerds that haven’t read it yet. It goes into a lot of details, but I think they raise more general points and questions. But: I should also acknowledge what the official results and also penalty outcomes were – after all appeals, and some discussion that certainly took place. Hence this post: I will provide you with some updated stats, add some new little stats, report on how the penalties turned out, and will have a few concluding thoughts.

1. Official Results

The official results were published on 26th of October 2022 and you find them here. Everything that follows is obviously only my own compilation of and commentary on some information out of it.

1.1 Leaderboard

The top of the leaderboard of the ca. 4250km race incl. all penalties looks as follows:

SOLO overall:
1. #100 Christoph Strasser – 9D 15H 0M
2. #75 Adam Bialek – 9D 23H 22M
3. #160 Pawel Pulawski – 10D 2H 6M


SOLO Women:*
1. #1 Fiona Kolbinger – 10D 13H 44M
2. #14 Amrei Kühne – 11D 19H 48M
3. #48 Meaghan Hakkinen – 12D 11H 21M


*there are mixed views on whether to spell out the women’s podium or not (also among women). e.g. female-directed TCR itself does not spell it out. So, for those who like it, I do.

PAIRS overall:
1. #252 Theo Daniel & Stephane Ouaja – 12D 8H 50M
2. #251 Richard & Sam Gate – 13D 3H 16M
3. #256 Christopher Dunand & Jonathan McCarthy – 13D 9H 49M

Please check the official leaderboard to have a look at the other amazing riders at the top and throughout the list!

Congrats to everyone! Incredible what these riders achieved. Assuming the distances quoted further below, these top riders did as a daily average up to 450km + several thousand m of climbing.

I’d like to give an honourable mention to Ulrich Bartholomoes who was a top-contender against Christoph Strasser; he ended up in a very unfortunate situation at a ferry that turned out not to run. That situation was not exclusively on him (worth its own discussion), but was responsible for him not making the top 3. So:
4. #50 Ulrich Bartholomoes – 10D 3H 2M

Another rather extreme case was rider #233 Krystian Jakubek who arrived physically in second place. But due to massive penalties he was now placed on 6th position – among them the border crossing penalty and some of the rather “surprising” unique penalties I mentioned. (The case also stirred some discussion that I will not go into now. If interested, check the “unique penalties” section in my previous post)

In the pairs, the outcomes of penalties changed the second position so that it now goes to “the Gate Family” – congrats! They had considered the “illegal” border crossing into Montenegro (check my previous post where I handle this in detail), but decided against it, because they assumed it might be penalised. And they were right! So them ending on 2nd position was not a matter of luck, but a matter of deliberate strategic choices.

Just because it may be interesting to some, here’s also a table of the Top10 solo riders with a comparison between physical arrival ranking and post-penalty official ranking. It illustrates how big the impact of penalties can still be. I didn’t calculate it for the whole field, but just for illustration: I myself arrived physically as the 66th rider, and am now ranked on 61 – despite a 5:30h penalty. Really doesn’t matter or do anything to my sense of achievement, but shows that penalties have effects for the whole leaderboard.

1.2 Rider status – stats & cases

And here are just some general stats regarding the rider status:

SOLO-Riders:

  • 41% arrived within the time cutoff (16 days, i.e. General Classification)*
  • 12% Finished outside of the GC
  • 47% of starters scratched

To my knowledge, the scratch-rate is the highest of any TCR edition so far.

Two riders’ status were changed from “Finisher” back to “GC”*. Among them Jesko von Werthern who was originally suspected by the Race Direction to have stayed in private accommodation (which would mean: supported), but could explain and prove that this was not the case.

4 riders who originally arrived within the 16 days to achieve GC status, lay beyond the 16 days including their penalties; technically outside of the GC. This was particularly due to the border penalty (5,5h). The race direction decided to leave those riders within the GC. They justified this by acknowledging that the penalised border-crossing was deemed ok to use in edition 4, but not in this one, so there may have been confusion. I know that to some of those 4 riders this did matter, so I’m glad it turned out that way. Congrats!!

*”GC”/”General Classification” means that the rider arrived within the time cutoff AND followed all the most important rules & requirements, and is therefore awarded a ranked position. “Finisher”s are mostly riders that arrived at the finish line after the cutoff, but did ride all the distance through the Checkpoints

PAIR-Riders

  • 31% arrived within the General Classification
  • 19% Finished outside of the GC
  • exactly half of the pairs riders did not finish.

In one case one rider of a pair scratched, but the other continued the race, so he was awarded Finisher status: #251b Olivier Caty. Congrats! Obviously he could not be listed in the GC as his effort with a mix of supported and unsupported could not be compared to solo-riders’ rides.

The high DNF-rate overall is remarkable. And it is not entirely clear to me why it is so high. Some people – among them some of the most experienced TCR veterans – claimed this to have been the “toughest edition yet”. But obviously that is hard to define let alone verify. Every edition is unique; too many factors that make them incomparable.

Clearly, this edition was the longest yet in terms of distance, while the cutoff time of 16 days remained. So riders had the same limited time to arrive at a longer distance. Possibly that had a discouraging effect on a few riders who realized they wouldn’t make it in the time they previously envisioned.

1.3 Distances ridden & FMC error

Speaking of it… related to the distance of this edition I have some more stats. Firstly, based on 13 riders only, for who I had the actual ridden total distance, I established that Followmychallenge overestimates riding distances by ca. 6% on average (but can be up to at least 12%). (I also checked: this deviation does not depend on the distance)

If you rode TCR No. 8 and know your total distance based on your own tracking (not FMC), feel free to drop me a line. It’s an interesting data point!

I applied that information to all total distances reported by Followmychallenge; i.e. substracted 5,5% from the FMC-distance to arrive at an estimate of the actually ridden distance. This will not be correct for each individual rider, but in total I assume deviations will be random and equal out.

On average Finishers rode around 4260km. More precisely, the mean distance was 4280km; while 50% of riders rode more and 50% rode less than 4240km (i.e. the median). The difference is due to some extreme positive outliers like Mikko Mäkipää who did 4591km (not because of bad planning; quite the opposite, as many will know). 50% of riders lay within 4190km and 4340km (i.e. the blue box).

2. Penalty updates

If you really want to read up on some “inside TCR” penalty insights, I recommend to check out my already often mentioned previous post on the preliminary results. There you find a detailed description and discussion of all things penalties.

2.1 General penalty stats

On average, solo riders received 4,5 hours of penalties. That accounts for the fact that the wide-spread border-crossing penalty was reduced (see below). Among those riders that received a penalty, it was on average 5,0 hours.

Independent from the reduction of the border-penalty, for 33 riders (37%), some penalties were lifted. That means that 33 riders successfully appealed. That is 45% of riders who got a penalty, which seems to be in line with the “guilty until proven innocent” policy that I discussed in my previous post. It is not known to me how many of the remaining 55% handed in an appeal that was rejected, how many did not hand in any appeal at all, and how many of those in turn would have been successful with an appeal. I do know a few cases where mid-pack riders decided not to appeal because it didn’t matter to them, even though they were sure not to have committed the infringement.

Now after appeals the number of riders without any penalty rose to 12 (previously 6). That means 86% of solo riders received a penalty. So the updated diagram on how this number developed over the years is as follows:

2.2 Update MNE-border penalty

Most remarkably: The border crossing penalty was reduced from 9:35h to 5:30h (i.e. 4 hours). As a reminder: 60% of riders received that penalty, which is why this penalty matters quite a bit, and as you may have read in my previous post, the penalty was also quite controversial. This means that effectively the sanction was turned from a penalty into a mere rough compensation of the time riders saved with that border crossing. Coincidentally that is a suggestion I proposed in my post; but I strongly doubt I had any impact on the decision.

How many riders actually crossed here legally? I did not check for each rider who originally received the penalty, if they now got a reduction in penalty (beyond the 4h they got anyway), but: Originally 52 riders got the border-penalty. Now in the official results there are still 53 riders with a total penalty above 5,5 hours; one of them was added (Jesko, see above). Given that it is highly unlikely for many riders to get beyond 5 hours of penalty without the border penalty, I assume that no rider (or at most very very few) provided evidence that they actually crossed legally. So, probably almost every rider who crossed that border did it without the technically required stamped paper. In my view that supports my theory that 60% of riders had a different expectation as to what actions were totally ok as opposed to the race direction’s view.

LostDot statement about the decision: Along with the email regarding the official results, riders also received this explanation as to why that penalty was applied:

“The ideal means of using an unmanned border would be to find a means of using it legally, and document that as per the instructions in the Race Manual. […] If we had prohibited the border in question it would have prevented the kind of considered planning we want to encourage on the Race. If we had provided instructions on how to cross the border it would have prevented those with the foresight to plan correctly from having the edge on their competitors. If we had not penalised that border those who made the decision to use the legal entry due to failing to get legal permission would have been very unfairly penalised. For an adventure Race that requires compliance with the law (as all races do) I feel the decision was fair and measured.”

This explanation is in line with the pro-penalty arguments I myself laid out in my previous post. As I said there, too: it is a matter of judgement. In this case it was a pro-penalty judgement, but with a reduction of the penalty, which I think makes the penalty less controversial. (But if anyone cares: I’m still not 100% convinced for quite a lot of reasons.)

2.3 HS07 – Austrian highway

As described in my previous post: This penalty was given to 50% of riders. Based on the sample of tracker details that I checked (followmychallenge & some Strava records) I could not find anyone who actually took that illegal stretch of the Austrian B180 and would confidently say: Except for at most 1-2 riders, no one took that road, so the penalty was entirely unjustified. If I am wrong: please let me know! I have not heard anything about it from LostDot (race organization).

I had previously suspected this penalty would be lifted altogether, as it must have been given in error. But I have reason to believe that this penalty was only removed where riders appealed. This is a bit hard to prove as the final results do not split out separate penalties, and I do not know which riders appealed and which did not. But I know one rider who received this penalty in error ((s)he did not commit the infringement), did not appeal, and still had the same total penalty in the final result. That gives reason to suspect that many other of the still standing penalties regarding this road are unjustified. So the race direction did not acknowledge their (supposed) error – despite certainly receiving many valid appeals against this penalty, where they had to correct it. They handed out an erroneous penalty to 50% of the field and stayed with it where no appeal was made. Remarkable. And unclear to me what conclusions to draw from that about the processes behind penalties.

Again, in case anyone knows more… please let me know.

3. Concluding remarks…

Ok, the following section is purely subjective:

I think to any rider who participated, this race edition was again a very exciting experience, and to many certainly had the quality of a lifetime milestone. Finishing or even just starting TCR is a big deal. Riders gave all their heart and body to the challenges thrown at them. Went again through probably some of the highest highs and lowest lows of their lives, within just 2 or so weeks or even just hours. In that way the notorious Transcontinental Race contributed so much again to so many people’s lives. All that was definitely the case for me.

At the same time the race may also go through a transformation. Race direction is changing: There’s a new team taking over that includes one in my view very experienced and accomplished rider and a charismatic and invested race director. I am so curious to see where they take that race! And regardless of whether I will ride a TCR again or not, I am thankful for them to not only keep that amazing race running, but also develop it further.

Further development of the race will require approaching and listening to riders. In my view there is a lot of potential to make the event more about riders and their experiences again; my impression was that in many ways there was a lot of focus on many other stakeholders, incl. the organization itself. Maybe rider-input (incl. the rider now on board of the team, yaay!) will realign some of the race-policies with the reality of riders on the road, and with the decisions and sacrifices riders make with their best intentions for 1,5-2 weeks straight. I think an empathetic way of addressing riders has incredible potential to make the social/community experience even more magical to everyone and emphasise “trust” as the most important element to keep everything within the spirit. That may also involve a re-orientation of the roles and tasks of volunteers and dotwatchers. I might issue another post on those ideas, but not sure (also not sure if anyone needs it hah. If you’re interested, follow me here or on Instagram; I will not post it on Facebook). And obviously if you have ideas, comments or wish to a chat with me and/or other riders, get in touch! (no matter what stakeholder group you belong to)

My previous post definitely triggered some public discussion. I received a lot of messages, heard many stories, some but not all of which I then added to the previous post. At the same time I really don’t want to overstate it; the private discussions were certainly more heated and extensive than the public ones, and I believe that also has to do with who has what incentives to be involved. I’d encourage every rider to not be shy thinking and talking about what makes a great ultra-race – not only related to TCR. There is still SO much potential in this young and growing sports discipline.

I’m excited about following the next TCR. And all the other beautiful races that exist. Maybe I’ll meet you at some point (again) at a starting line! Cheers!

Author: cyclingtourist

Hi, I'm Malte, solo long-distance road cycling tourist www.cyclingtourist.com

12 thoughts on “TCR No. 8 – about *official* results, stats, penalties update & subjective conclusion”

  1. Hi Sergey. Wow. So grateful that I did TCR #1 and #2 when Mike was still running things. Hopefully the new organisation will dial back and recapture that original spirit.

    Like

    1. @triduffer: Obviously I agree that policies and focus should change. But I think we should also acknowledge two important things:
      a) that the current/former race director made it possible for the race to still exist at all. Without her personal sacrifices and responsibility this race wouldn’t have enriched hundreds of people‘s lives throughout the past 5 years. And all that despite her not being originally/intrinsically connected to the sport. I don’t think I would have had the stamina. And she could easily just have abandoned it, but didn’t.
      And b) the race develops. A lot of things changed since 2017. especially public attention which has impact on all kinds of things: legal scrutiny, involvement of and responsibility towards sponsors. I suppose there are now so many more things to account for and keep in balance than when the race started in the first 2-3 editions.

      Like

      1. Well, I’m not frustrated at all – all TCR/TPR events I was in were the great adventure, I met a lot of great people on the road and finishing it out of GC was quite a big relief actually, when you could go on your own. I just see that it could be done much better in terms of organisation and as well attitude to the riders should be more “human”. You know I grew up in Soviet Union and situation on Lost Dot events for me looks very familiar in terms of pretty authoritarian relationship between “people” and “the state” instead of something which should be driven by the nature of cycling.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, yes, I see. I honestly had similar associations when I heard about the processes installed to keep an eye on riders. And the communication did not exactly sound like love or trust… maybe in communication lies one of the biggest factor determining the relationship between riders and the organization.

        Like

      3. Fully agree that Anna deserves a lot of credit for keeping it going. I have to disagree on your second point. There are many other races and none to my knowledge have the degree of rules and enforcement of the TCR. They aren’t necessary IMHO.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Sure, I‘m not defending all of the bureaucracy. Just saying: it‘s hard to compare Edition one or two with the current ones. And there’s also hardly any race that gets more attention, so that‘s also a special situation and belongs into any evaluation, too.
        One might also argue that some other races are a bit too lenient regarding rule breaches. I‘ve heard crazy stories in that direction, too. But that’s an entirely different topic, of course. : )

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this insightful post. Like you, as a TCR veteran (#1 and #2) I hope that the new management takes a good hard look at the various policies and recapures the ‘spirit’ of the original races, as well as the broader ethos of self-supported ultraendurance cycling.

    It’s not just the petty enforcements; the media policy also needs to be scrapped, I shared this with some other race directors and they were incredulous.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The TCR is the only race to my knowledge which has adopted a “Media License” policy (https://www.transcontinental.cc/faq).

        This states that “… the rider agrees to yield the commercial rights of all the media they collect on the Event to Transcontinental.”

        Give.me.a.break.

        They argue that it keeps the entry fee lower, but nobody would believe this unless there was an open book showing the balance sheet etc. The fact that the early TCR’s didn’t have this rule, and the fees are already at the higher end of what others charge, this has the appearance of either control or a money grab.

        Anecdotally, I was told that one winner was not able to be interviewed immediately at the end of the race as the media crew present was not authorised by the TCR. Whether or not this is true I don’t know, but it is a logical outcome of such a policy.

        I shared this with the Race Director of another major race and their response was “Wow ! That is disturbing”.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, wow. I was not aware of that sentence in the rider agreement that you quote. That is pretty crazy. It essentially means even the iPhone pics I used on the way can be commercially used by LostDot. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

      I feel already a bit resistant about the fact that LostDot takes pictures of riders that they use for their race-representation but are not willing to give to riders for private use any of the hundreds of pics they shot. Or e.g.: I know that a picture of me crying at the finish line was used in an exhibition by the photographer, but when I had previously asked him if I could use that pic, he was hesitant. Bit skewed approach to handling rights of images.

      In general I think a media license for sponsored riders is legitimate. Because in that case the sponsoring companies benefit commercially from the reputation the race has built over years of hard work.
      But they are taking that game very far: e.g. I spoke to a volunteer, and it seems like they installed intricate processes for surveillance of riders to make sure they don’t breach the media license rules. I.e. to spot riders advertising without having the license. It apparently goes so far that volunteers are asked to keep a close eye on every step a racer does at a CP. If that’s true, it’s very messed up and would explain a bit the cooled vibes I got at CPs this time.

      Like

      1. Very interesting analysis, thanks a lot. For me personally LostDot events look like we’re slaves who should be happy for organisers allowing us to participate and pay fees, including latest addition of GBP100 for support of newcomers etc. on top of the fee we paid before Covid happened, not mentioning the media license, which is ridiculous IMHO. As a good example of neglect I’d mentioned the story with reflectors, which were obligatory, but that was said on the start only, not in the manual, so riders who just followed manual were advised to get them somewhere before CP1. I’m a slow one and managed to find two reflectors on the road with no need to buy, but if I were in a leading group looking for it in a bike shop would be a waste of precious time. That grass part in Romanian parcour again looks again like a case, when somebody didn’t pay much attention when planning, so riders had to suffer for that and taking penalty if they just followed the gravel track. The story with the ferries, which are the only means of crossing and don’t work at night for me is also something, which turns event into a sort of circus. For Montenegro part – I built all my tracks with Komoot, which is official sponsor and seems to be something I can trust to, the story was that my track went quite funny and when I tried to follow it getting into Bosnia from Croatia I found that it goes leaving the road straight downhill through the bush, so I started to look for alternatives and after getting back a bit found the proper turn, which turned up to be unmanned border crossing, which I just passed and continued, so I might suppose that having no marks about getting into Bosnia I would have a right to leave it via unmanned crossing too 🙂 Must tell that in Balkans this could be a common practice – when I entered Romania the didn’t stamp my passport and literally tell me not to stay but go on, while when I entered the ferry I was questioned why I got no stamp and I had to show them on my track where I came in.
        Other point which wasn’t covered here I guess is that I was interviewed few times during TCR/TPR about my fixed gear bike, which took quite some time, I wonder if I’d miss CP or finish for a couple of minutes would I be able to appeal or something trying to compensate my time. As I’m out of GC I don’t mind much about it, more interesting is where I could find this material to listen to myself, looks like they’re buried in some computer of LostDot forever.
        Anyway, and I’ve seen it on my first TCR 4 years ago, the spirit of race nowadays is quite strange, when you feel rather like a slave, not a part of cycling community, from what I can read/hear its the only UC race which goes this way.

        Like

      2. Thanks, Sergey for your comment and sharing your experiences. You indeed sound very unhappy about the event. I can understand your frustration, but at the same time, honestly I have a somewhat different take on most examples you mention.
        But no doubt some of those things were inconveniences. In any case: congrats to you for finishing despite the adversity the race naturally throws at us. : )

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: