Photo Epic: Final Days
The final two days of the Santa Cruz Andes Pacifico Enduro kicked off on Valle Hermoso after riders moved down from the Andes and into the mountain of the Coastal Range. While these mountains may pale in comparison to the Andes in scale, they are still big enough to challenge riders with descents anywhere between 600m - 1000m. The dirt also has a bit more grip towards the coast, which, after sliding about in the Andes, is always a welcome change.Day 4 was a truly massive day that saw riders leave camp at 9 in the morning and not return until nearly 9 at night. Starting in De Varas and ending in Pulmachuen, racers would face nearly 2700m of descending spread over three stages and long liaisons under the hot sun. With nearly 10 hours of time on the bike and limited time at night to make various repairs or to rest, the decision was made to cut a stage from the final day of the race to ensure there was ample time to enjoy an afternoon at the beach.The 5th and final day would begin in Pullalli and end at the beach in Cachagua right on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. The shortened schedule was welcomed by all and the day had a relaxed and casual atmosphere about it. For almost everyone other than the riders still battling out front, it was a stress free ride to the end of a very long week. In the women's race the top three spots were pretty much locked in, barring any kind of major mechanical or injury, and the finish order would remain the same as it began on day one. Pauline Diefenthaler would come third behind Laura Battista, while Florencia Espineira would take home the win for Chile with a time that would make the majority of the men's field jealous. The Men's race however was far from being decided as Romain Paulhan starts the day with just a 6 second lead ahead of Pedro Burns, a margin quite remarkable in its own right after nearly 2.5 hours of racing. Pedro however put it all on the line though through the final two stages, digging deep in the physical sections of track as the race approached the ocean to pull back a considerable amount of time. And as riders stood on the shores of the Pacific his effort would pay off as Pedro would be crowned the first ever Chilean winner of the Andes Pacifico. Paulhan would slip back to second while fellow Frenchman Francois Bailly-Maitre would round out the podium in third.With Chileans on top of the podium in both the men's and women's races for the first time in the 6 year history of the Andes Pacifico, as well as a win in the master's race by Felipe Vasquez, the pisco poured even more freely than previous years. The now infamous afterparty had something a little extra special to celebrate.