In past years the third and fourth days of the Andes Pacifico traditionally head westward toward the coast and away from the rugged trails of the Andes. In this year's running wild fires south of Santiago along the coastal range forced organizers to scramble at the last minute for new trails and new regions as the race moved closer to the Pacific Ocean. And while racers were not treated to the wine tours of the Santa Cruz region as they have in the past, they were instead rewarded with a third day in the Andes and some remote trails seldom ever ridden my mountain bikes.
The trails high above Chicureo can only be accessed by 4x4 or moto on rugged steep roads that snake 2400 meters up and across multiple peaks. The trails back down are usually only ridden by dirt bikes due to their remote nature, which have created trails full of whoops, berms, and ruts. Essentially a motocross track on singletrack and with speeds in excess of 50kph. It would be on these trails that Jerome Clementz would stretch his lead to almost a full minute as he thrives on stages longer than 10 minutes in length, exploiting his power on the multiple small climbs scattered throughout. The same could be said for Tracy Moseley, who once again dominated the day in the women's race.
Day 4 saw a change of camp and a relocation about one hour from the coast in a town called La Ligua. And while the hills surrounding the region may not be as intimidating and tall as the Andes, they were no less challenging. Here riders would find more mellow grades both out in the open and through the forest, as well as steep and deeply rutted trails that have evolved over time with erosion from the rain that is far more common here than at the higher elevations. While the surface wasn't as slick and unpredictable as that in the Andes, it's still loose and mixed full of sand and rocks of all sizes. Additionally, the vegetation lining the track takes on a much more prickly demeanor, made up of various species of cactus. Racers going off track had more to worry about that just jagged boulders.
With just one day off racing to go before racers can celebrate on the beaches of Cachagua, Tracey Moseley has a commanding lead in the women's race while Jerome Clementz holds the top spot for the men. It's safe to say Tracy has things locked up barring disaster, but Jerome has been put under pressure by Chilean, Milciades Jaque, who was fastest on day 4.
Next stop... La playa.
Overall standings here