The seventh edition of the Transcontinental Race was won by 24 year old German cancer researcher, Fiona Kolbinger at 7:48am CET on Tuesday 6th of August 2019. She traveled over 4000km from Burgas, Bulgaria to the finish line at Brest in Brittany, in northwest France in just 10 days, 2 hours and 48 minutes (10:02:48).
A total of 265 riders started the TCRNo.7. There were four Control Points, each accompanied by a section of obligatory parcours (race route) spread out across the 4000km of the race. Each section provided a specific challenge. From gravel tracks to high altitude climbs and leg-breaking gradients. These included climbing the Timmelsjoch (2,474m) in the South Tyrol at the border of Italy and Austria, and the Col du Galibier (2,645m), one of the highest paved roads in the French Alps. The race ended this year in Brest, France, the midpoint of the iconic long-distance bike race that predates even the Tour de France, Paris-Brest-Paris (first held in 1891).
Depending on their chosen route, racers passed through seven or more countries including Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Croatia, France, Italy, Kosovo, Serbia, Slovenia and Switzerland. To complete the course they’ve cycled through temperatures of up to 37 degrees centigrade and as low as just four degrees above freezing. They’ve suffered under the scorching sun, freezing rain, and rode through thunder and lightning. It was a race of firsts. Fiona Kolbinger’s first ever ultra-distance race, and the first time the Transcontinental Race has been won by a woman. She was by no means the only woman in the race, however. Forty women were present on the start line in Burgas. We spoke to Fiona at the finish line:
“I am so, so, surprised to win. Even now. When I was coming into the race I thought that maybe I could go for the women’s podium, but I never thought I could win the whole race… I think I could have gone harder. I could have slept less.”