Laurens Ten Dam wins stage 2 of the Migration Gravel Race.

Laurens Ten Dam has won the Queen’s stage of the Migration Gravel Race in 7hrs 12 min 55s ahead of Ian Boswell, Suleiman Kangangi and Geoffrey Langat after 3000m of climbing. The Dutchman extended the lead he established after winning stage 1 and is a strong favourite to win the overall classification.

Ten Dam attacked with 10km remaining after riding with Kangangi, Langat and Boswell throughout the 174km stage. He dropped Langat, then Kangangi and Boswell, and now enjoys a healthy lead over Kangangi heading into stage 3.

Ian Boswell redeemed himself after the disaster of stage 1. He crossed the line and said,

“Water”

Having caught his breath, he then declared;

“I think gravel riding has reached it’s peak and adventure riding is the next thing, and this is an adventure race.”

Langat rode on and off the lead group after the final feed station, but could not hang onto his compatriot or the two former grand tour riders and finished 4th.

Ten Dam, Boswell, Kangangi and Langat broke away from the rest of the field at the base of the first major climb, and formed a formidable quartet. Kenneth Karaya, who finished 4th on day 1, was stuck a few minutes behind the leaders but was never able to make contact. At the first check point, he declined food and drink and powered through on his hardtail mountain bike after seeing the leaders stop for a few minutes to refuel. At the final feed station, he was still within 10 minutes of the leaders, and still riding alone. He eventually crossed the line with Thomas Dekker in 5th and 6th.

Karaya simply shook his head after finishing, while Dekker said,

“Steady climbing I can do, but I’m 10 kilos too heavy,” before checking his computer and adding,

“3100m is too much for a Dutchman to climb”

Trailing Karaya throughout the stage was another strong group containing Dekker, Jordan Schleck, Jean Eric Habimana, Edwin Keiya and the Masaka boys from Uganda, Kato Paul and Wasswa Peter.

Paul finished 7th just a few seconds ahead of Peter, while Keiya and Habimana completed the top 10. Schleck is one of a number of riders tackling the course on a hardtail mountain bike, and finished 11th, in front of Didier Munyaneza, Alvaro Galindo, Kenyan veteran David Kinjah and compatriot John Kariuki.

Boswell and Langat were the big movers on the Queen’s stage. Boswell showed his class after mechanical issues ruined his first stage and moved from 17th to 5th overall. Langat bounced back from 14th place and a 1hr 6 min time gap to Ten Dam, and sits 6th overall. Meanwhile, East African riders proved their resilience. The top 15 contained six Kenyans, three Ugandans and two Rwandans.

Two stages, two victories. Can anyone beat Laurens Ten Dam?

Migration Gravel Race goes onwards and upwards.

The Queen’s stage of the Migration Gravel Race features a total of 3200m climbing over 146km and could well determine the overall winner of the inaugural gravel race through the Maasai Mara region of Kenya. Laurens Ten Dam and Betsy Welch lead the men’s and women’s categories and are expecting strong attacks from riders like Ian Boswell who lost time in the gruelling first stage.

Ten Dam dropped his rivals with a determined attack into the headwind in the final kilometres of stage 1, and enjoys a 13 minute lead on second placed Suleiman Kangangi. Boswell suffered the most on stage 1. The pre-race favourite and recent winner of Unbound Gravel (200) punctured numerous times on the rough and rocky trails and spent valuable time repairing the damage to his bike. The American sits 1hr 17 min behind Ten Dam.

Boswell has ridden in all three grand tours. What will he do on the Queen’s stage?

Welch broke away from Nancy Akinyi throughout the stage and starts day 2 with a 38 minute lead. Dutch duo Mieke Luten and Dorien Geertsema rode together on day 1, and lie 1hr 24 minutes behind Welch.

Ten Dam holds the following time gaps over his nearest rivals:

Thomas Dekker and Kenneth Karaya – 23 minutes

Jordan Schleck and Alvaro Galindo – 36 minutes

John Kariuki and Edwin Keiya – 45 minutes

Tom Oosterdijk – 46 minutes

Finley Newmark held high expectations leading into stage 1, but the reality of Africa confronted him and he sits in 25th at 1 hr 47 from the lead.

Other women who will be chasing Welch up the steep hills and into the clouds are April Kelley at 1hr 48 behind, and Nicola Greene, who needs to make up 1 hr and 52 minutes.

Rwanda is a powerhouse of African road cycling. It hosts the annual Tour du Rwanda and produces some of the continent’s strongest riders. Most of the Rwandans struggled on stage 1 and their best result was Jean Eric Habimana, who finished 13th, 1 hour 6 minutes off the lead. Attacks are expected from the Rwandans in stage 2.

Stage 1 introduced riders to the reality of off-road cycling in Africa, and stage 2 will be even harder.

Follow the progress of the riders at http://www.migrationgravelrace.com, and at http://www.instagram.com/migrationgravelrace.

Laurens Ten Dam creates history at Migration Gravel Race.

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.

Follow live tracking at http://www.migrationgravelrace.com, and keep an eye on http://www.instagram.com/migrationgravelrace for updates.