MUSCAT, MARCH 3 - The 2020 BikingMan Oman produced several surprises with 66 participants reaching the Shangri-la finish-line in Muscat under the 120-hour time limit. The most extreme cycling race of the Middle East with 1,060 km distance and 9,300m of ascent was flagged off at Shangri La Hotel, Muscat with 80 riders on February 22.
Frenchman Laurent Boursette, who was attempting his first participation in a BikingMan race, surprised everyone by riding the entire race in 43h36min without sleeping, despite the extreme heat and elevation of the course.
Irish Elizabeth Dunne (former military) won the woman Solo category in 70h47min after suffering from nosebleed, saddle sore and multiple dehydration issues.
The Italian-Canadian pair, Cristian Auriemma and Jeff Webb (2019 champion), won the team category in 53h32min after suffering from strong stomach issues.
Cristian said this was his second straight title at the BikingMan Oman.
“I am excited to complete a second consecutive triumph in BikingMan Oman. Last year, we won the team title in the second edition,” Cristian told Oman Observer.
The 45-year-old said this year the race was more difficult and more challenging with the addition of gravel stage.
“Jebel Shams climb was the most challenging with the ‘King of Mountain’ challenge and time limit. The gravel section just under the mountain was also testing one,” the Italian said.
The participating Omani team, Mattar al Obaidani and Usam al Rawahi, managed the incredible time of 70h07min to finish second.
“I cannot forget the Jebel Shams climb and other tough sections during the ultra-cycling race. At one stage on Jebel Shams there was pitch dark in front of us. We managed however to reach the checkpoint,” Al Obaidani said.
FULL OF CHALLENGES
It has been the most difficult edition of the ultracycling race across the Al Hajar mountains, the Al Sharqiyah desert and the coastal road, between Sur and Muscat.
The night start on February 22 (8:00 pm) has made the first checkpoint (located on top of Jebel Shams), one of the most difficult checkpoints among all BikingMan races as all participants rode, overnight, the 400 km stretch. The Jebel Shams has lived up to its name of being one the most challenging climb in the world. All participants endured a very hard riding experience to reach the Jebel Shams resort, host of the first checkpoint, with several road segments on gravel and sandy tracks. Many had to walk their bike to reach the top.
The desert crossing of the Al Sharqiyah Governorate has been extremely challenging as well with temperatures rising up to 35°C and a very harsh sun before reaching the checkpoint 2 on the Arabian coast. The last leg of the coastal highway showed a windy section with very few refuel options on the route.
Many stories happened to the participants on the road with multiple punctures, wheels broken, bike issues and dehydration challenges related to the terrain of the event. One of the participants finished the race with a flat tyre having used all his repair tubes on a multiple punctures situation. Another one had to sleep in a mosque on the course as he couldn’t find hotels to rest. Several participants, due to sleep deprivation, have suffered from hallucinations on the road.
Oman 2020 is the kickoff of the BikingMan World Series.
With 95 participants registered this year in Oman, the event has been in constant progression since 2018, attracting the strongest endurance scene on Earth. The next BikingMan stage will take place in France (Corsica) in April and is already full with 100 participants coming from more than 20 countries.
The 2020 BikingMan World Championship will gather 500 athletes for 6 stages: Oman, Corsica (April), Brazil (June), Peru (July), Portugal (September), Laos (October).