The sixth edition the of Santa Cruz Andes Pacifico begins this week, with 120 racers making the journey to Chile to race from the challenging heights of the Andes to the beach of Cachagua on the Pacific Ocean. In the past, racers only spent two days in the Andes before heading south and west to the coastal range but for the 2019 edition the Andes will be featured for three of the five days with riders topping out at elevations that will leave even the most fit a bit deprived of precious oxygen.
The long and hot summer days have allowed the organizers to line up some truly massive days in the saddle with big liaison stages and even bigger timed stages. And, while the riders may not finish until nearly dark on a few of the days, they will be greeted by campsites that are often second to none. Complete with swimming holes, delicious local food, beer, and the amazing hospitality of Chilean culture that keeps many racers returning year after year.
Racing will once again be hotly contested as past champions Francois Bailly-Maitre and Jerome Clementz line up to go toe to toe with the Chilean champ, Pedro Burns. Also in attendance for the first time will be Wyn Masters, Thomas Lapeyrie, Remy Absalon and Sam Dale, four riders who could definitely shake things up at the front of the pack. And let's not forget a few other South American riders who could very easily come out on top such as Chileans Milicades Jaque and Nico Prudencio, or Brazilian Andreas Bretas. In the women's field racers will be hard pressed to knock Chilean Florencia Espineira off the top step, but the remaining podium spots will certainly be up for grabs for riders traveling from across the globe such as Pauline Dieffenthaler, Syd Shultz, Laura Battista, and Paula Jara-Bianchi.
Racing kicks off shortly from the 3600 meter summit of La Parva, and will end in a few days' time, but not before racers descend nearly 16,000 meters spread throughout 18 timed stages over five very long days.
Then of course there is Saturday night's infamous and semi-official Stage 19 that takes place just after the podium presentation. As the saying goes, #NoPiscoNoDisco...
Hold on to your hats folks, and check back over the next few days for race updates and tech reports as the adventure unfolds.