We continue looking for the most beautiful name of a bicycle race. The "Vuelta Independencia Nacional Republica Dominicana" sounds as beautiful as the expectations from this Caribbean holiday island. But holiday dreams and reality may lie far apart. Like the feeling of all-inclusive beach holiday and a cycling race from 200km in tropical conditions.
When we landed after a long flight - that led us via New York with an approximately 16 hour trip to the capital Santo Domingo - it was already middle of the night. Santo Domingo is not that small and has around 3 million inhabitants and our hotel was at the other side of town. Instead of Caribbean feeling we woozled almost 2 hours through the city and reached the hotel very tired by 3 o’clock. There are "only" 8 stages and 1,200 kilometers of the race ahead of us and it is a day to shake off the long trip.
After a short night the unaccustomed heat wakes us, the humidity is high and our circulation has stress. But it still makes a lot of fun to explore the beach and to chat with the friendly local mango and coconut sellers and to taste their range of products. For a moment we feel like tourists, but knowing what expects us from the next day. Getting to the start of the first stage is a kind path finder’s trip, which should remain so in the coming days. The information where to find the start were always very vague. It is not a problem to cross a capital with 3 million without any local knowledge by bike, well 20km to the start and after the race 20km back to the hotel. The 200km cycling in between in blistering midday heat: for free. It should be very hard day after day. However, we were always compensated by the fantastic backdrop: palm trees, sea and wonderful mountain landscapes adorned the way. In between, a warm shower in the form of a summer rain, that was really good indeed. How different feelings can be, when you imagine how we hate rain at home.
We had planned a lot, our teammates in Africa at the Tour of Gabun showed us already how to do. On the first day,our youngster Joschka Beck took the leader’s jersey of the youth classification. Four days long he could wear it until he had to spend as much time on the toilet, as on the saddle. Joschka lost a lot of time on the fourth stage, quite exhausted. Meanwhile, his teammate Yannick Mayer was in a promising break-away, with 3 riders of the American Top Team Smart Stop and 2 Colombians of EPM-UNE. In this combination, certainly no one would have bet on the unkonown German. But Yannick brings certainly more power on the pedal in the Sprint than the underweight Colombians.
What Caribbean passion of the spectators means, we should find out the next day. It was the queen stage, a 12-kilometer climb with around 10% slope in average. This climb was really steep and the local moped club had (briefly: Domoclub for Dominican club for Motociped) much compassion and sent a group of over 25 riders out, to serve the local cyclists as a lift. Whimsical to watch, only Colombians around the man in yellow found that it is not so funny. So it happened that the stage was cancelled shortly before the finish, which not everyone agreed. The wild bunch was just left in a mountain village, so that made the queen stage to an event with school trip character at the end
When we started the final stage on the eighth day, we were really euphoric. Everyone is again motivated to give everything, perhaps even time to get the chance for a good result. And again, a BIKE AID rider went into the break-away and with that tot he finish line. But the contenders are vigilant. Our Canadian Jacob Schwingboth sprints to a great 3rd place. Even withoutthe win a perfect end to our Caribbean travel.