Face of Flanders: Kristof Allegaert
For the gruelling, 3,400-kilometre Transcontinental Race, amateur cyclist Kristof Allegaert boldly went where no Tour de France rider had ever gone before
From London to Istanbul
Kristof Allegaert, a secondary school teacher in Kortrijk, has just won the Transcontinental Race from London to Istanbul – more than 3,400 kilometres. There’s no course; riders make their own way from one checkpoint to another. Although there are rules: Allegaert had to double back and take an alternative route after being told a ferry crossing he made was disallowed. He lost five hours.
To say he won comfortably would be a monumental understatement: when he arrived in Istanbul his nearest competitor, Richard Dunnet from the UK, was still in Greece, 520km away. The other nearest rival, Jeff Ibbett, also from the UK, was near Dupnica in Bulgaria. There were 88 riders in total this year.
Allegaert, 40, arrived at the second checkpoint at the Stelvio Pass in Italy at 21.51 on the 11th; Ibbett at 10.28 the next day, and Dunnett at 14.03, also on the 12th. Another 26 riders didn’t check in until the 14th, and 12 of them were more than three days behind Allegaert.
So how did he do it? A check of his times illustrates that he cycled non-stop without sleeping. In his blog, he details last year’s race, which he also won. The stages were: London – Nivelles, 334km, 11h in the saddle; Nivelles – Strasbourg, 420km, 16h; Strasbourg – Stelvio Pass, 445km, 17h; Stelvio Pass – Klagenfurt, 431km, 16h27; Klagenfurt – Osijek, 430km, 15h20; Osijek – Jagodina, 343km, 13h50; Jagodina – Istanbul, 865km, 33h.
Apart from the first day (and time spent on the ferry), Allegaert never travelled less than 343km a day. The Tour de France, by comparison is 3,500km, and the riders take 21 days to cover it. Allegaert did the same distance, without support of any kind, arriving on Sunday to finish in five days.
“I spent a lot of time on preparation, so that I only had one thing to do: keep pedalling until I got to Istanbul,” he told De Standaard. “It’s easier to keep going than it is to rest and then have to leave again.”
Photo courtesy Transcontinental Race