Day one and two of the Santa Cruz Andes Pacifico was all about the high altitude, sun, and dust of the rugged Chilean Andes spread over seven stages. With a total descent of nearly four thousand meters bikes were certainly beaten up and brake pads left burning hot.
Day one would be the Gates of Quempo and featured the highest start elevation of the race at over three thousand meters including some stages that had not been visited since the 2015 edition of the race. Day two, Cordon of the Spaniards (once used by the Spanish Conquistadors) would also send riders into a high altitude oxygen debt as they tackled three stages with 500-800m of descent each.
In a repeat of last year's battle, it would be Chilean Pedro Burns leading the charge with Frenchman and last year's runner up Romain Paulhan right behind. Newcomer Greg Callaghan was right there in third on day one but would relinquish that spot to Andes Pacifico veteran Iago Garay on day two. And of course behind them is a host of Chilean pinners.
Florencia Espiniera would dominate the women's race as expected. Fellow Chilean Paz Gallo would hold down second with American Kim Hardin in third. Sadly Alex Pavon, who had started the first day running in second, would be forced to pull out of the race with a wrist injury.
Back at camp, the beers were flowing, ample wine was poured, and after racers cooled off in the river another massive spread of delicious food ensured that everyone went to bed happy and with a full stomach.
With three days left to go on entirely new terrain that has never been raced before, the race to the Pacific Ocean is definitely just getting started.