Laurens Ten Dam of the Netherlands has won the first ever stage of the Migration Gravel Race in a gruelling day of mechanical and navigational disasters that claimed many riders, including Ian Boswell. Ten Dam attacked into the headwind at the end of the stage to finish ahead of Kenyans Suleiman Kangangi and Kenneth Karaya, while Boswell finished 15th.
Ten Dam joined the leading pack as the race passed through local villages of the Maasai Mara region, alongside compatriot Thomas Dekker, as well as Jordan Schleck, Alvaro Galindo, Edwin Keiya and Tom Oosterdijk. Dekker finished strongly in 4th, just 23 minutes behind the leader and just ahead of a host of East African riders.
No one was surprised to see a Dutchman excel in the wind, but those watching live, and via the internet, were shocked to see Boswell so far behind throughout the stage and at the finish line. Boswell and Kangangi both punctured about six kilometres into the race. Kangangi was able to fix his puncture fairly quickly, but Boswell’s was more complicated and he was separated from the leaders. Boswell apparently punctured a second time and his day turned into a disaster.
Kangangi set off in pursuit of the lead group and just as he was about to make contact, Ten Dam used the racing smarts which carried him to top 10 finishes at Le Tour and La Vuelta, and launched his attack. Kangangi then picked off the lead riders one by one, including Karaya, who is riding the race on a hardtail mountain bike.
Jordan Schleck, who is from Uganda and not Luxembourg, rode home in sixth despite his own major mechanical mishap. A bolt from his gear shifter fell off on the rough rocky roads and the entire shifter almost landed in his spokes. He crossed the line with his gear shifter attached to the handlebars of his mountain bike with a zip tie.
Galindo battled stones, mechanical issues and a minor injury on his way to fifth place, while Kenyan Edwin Keiya finished 7th, just edging out the third Dutchman, Tom Oosterdijk. Kenya took 6 of the first 15 positions, with John Kariuki in 9th, Geoffrey Langat in 13th and Bobby Joseph 14th.
Masaka Cycling Club in Uganda is celebrating the achievements of their two inexperienced riders competing against some of the world’s best. Wasswa Peter finished 10th, just 3 minutes ahead of Kato Paul in 11th. Rwandan riders are expected to perform well over the four stages, but their sole representative near the top of the leaderboard is Jean Eric Habimana in 12th.
Stage 1 took riders through local villages, challenging rocky sections and a section featuring steep climbs, with a total of 1650m elevation. A stage which appeared moderate on paper proved very difficult in reality, as some riders found themselves completely off course and enjoyed their own private wildlife safari before rejoining the race.
Ten Dam enters stage two with a 15 minute lead over Kangangi, with Karaya 22 minutes behind, Dekker 23 minutes and Spaniard Galindo 35 minutes back. Boswell has three more stages to make up a deficit of 1hr 19 minutes. Such a large deficit could see a significant attack from the American on stage 2, which is the Queen’s stage of 160km with a total of 3200m of climbing.