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15:34 GMT         Day 39 of 90, Season 67    

El Tocororo yields third jersey

Written by Svalbard Trek at 12:42 21/11-2023

  The Cuban stage race El Tocororo is a relatively new event on the Tour calendar, having been around for just a mere six seasons. The seventh season would be the first that Trek signed up for and the first showcasing the talent of the local boy Conrad Isley. At just 21 years of age, he has shown maturity beyond his years to be selected as the leader of Svalbard Trek at this race.
  The rest of the team was formed from some more experienced members of the team, with Efrain Dooley, Charles Tapp and Lincoln Covenhoven also selected to guide Isley through the hills of the tour, whilst Maximino Bairros and Jimmy Schwartz were mostly signed to guide Isley in the tougher flat lands of the Cuban island.
  Stage one takes the riders between the very small beach resort of Las Coloradas on the southern tip of Cuba to Alto de Naranjo over the course of 147 km. The riders set out from Las Coloradas towards the town of Pilon and the entrance to the national park Sierra Maestra. The opening kilometres are fairly flat before giving away to the rolling hills of this stunning area of natural beauty. Isley, well supported by Efrain Dooley and Charles Tapp survived the early culling of riders at the back of the peloton, though on the penultimate climb of the day, Trek were caught out on a sharp descent and had to sacrifice Tapp to place Isley back in the front group at the bottom of the final climb to Alto de Naranjo. In this hot, arid land paying hommage to Castro's stronghold during the Cuban civil war, Isley repeatedly had to close down attacks on the steep ascent. Eventually he was broken and Todic and Figura would ride the final kilometre without Isley's presence. A first podium on a tour for Isley was secured however, and he also would go on to secure the young riders jersey for stage 2.
  From there, the tour moves to Sancti Spiritus, located in the centre of Cuba and the riders tackle another long hard day of 197 km over the hills of central Cuba, to the small, luxury resort of Cuatro Vientos. The race quickly settled into a similar pattern as to the day before, though as it entered the last 60 km, stretches of paved cobblestones began to distance some surprising names and allow others bag into the fold. However, under the watchful guidance of Scwartz, Isley made it through these stretches unscathed and was in a much better position heading into the last climb. Although Isley lasted slightly longer behind the two big favourites, he couldn't last until the finish line, with Todic and Figura leaving him behind to fight it out for the stage honours, and increasingly the top step in the battle for the podium. Isley did, however, hold on to his second consecutive podium despite a fast finishing Hallmundur Ásgrímursson closing him down to just a few bike lengths.
  The final stage, 212 km from Pinar del Rio to Ojo de Agua in the very west of the country, is slightly easier in terms of severity than the previous stages making defending any classification lead slightly easier, though there are still a significant number of hills along the route. Isley once again rode as aman above his years to hold on to the leading pack and even put in several digs of his own on the harder stretches of these long list of climbs, though he could never fully get rid of everyone. With the finish in sight, only four riders were in contention for the win and it became clear that Isley was going to win Treks third jersey of our history, all despite having never won a stage on a Tour. As the weakest of the sprinters, Isley tried a long range dig but ended up only acting as the lead out men for Todic, Figura and Ásgrímursson. Isley was to miss out on a third consecutive tour podium but it was set to be one of the more succesful tours.
  Isley would finish third on GC 31 seconds behind Figura and 28 behind Todic, and first in the YC. Efrain Dooley, riding in the services of Isley, would finish 21st in the GC. A tour to be proud of!


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Schiavi di Don at 11:49 22/11-2023
  Congrats, nice to see one of the newer tours bring joy. :)

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