That's all, folks...
So, another scintillating edition of the Tour Divide has come to an end. James Hodges becomes the first ever red caboose and has brought the curtain down on the most successful Tour Divide yet – in terms of numbers finishing, at least. Fifty riders from the southbound Grand Depart, six northbounders and four ITTers for a total of 60 successful rides. That’s almost triple last year’s figures.
A perhaps surprising corollary of this surge in popularity is the fall in attrition rates. Overall, out of 82 starters there was an unprecedented success rate of 68% for those participating in the Grand Depart (I haven’t managed to work out figures for ITTers as I’m not sure I’ve kept on top of who started and who didn’t). The success rate for the southbound Grand Depart was even higher at a staggering 75%.
Given this remarkable ratio in an event with historical attrition rates of 50% or more, it would be easy to conclude that increased awareness of the Tour Divide means people have arrived better prepared than in the past. However, the changes of the route due to snow conditions have probably also had an impact, reducing the intensity of the start if not the overall challenge.
Certainly, it should be remembered that the inaugural northbound GD proved considerably more challenging with attrition rates even greater than most previous Tour Divides: just six out of fifteen starters made it through to Banff (a 40% success rate). Here, there were significant challenges early on in the race – reminiscent of those traditionally found in Canada and Montana – so the assumption of a general improvement in preparation remains appealing but unproven.
Other notable features of the TD season so far include five women finishers, and the continued upsurge in popularity of ITT’s with Stephen Huddle still out on course, Andre Girgner just about to set off and more to come including the much anticipated rides by Jay Petervary and Erik Lobeck.
Let’s not forget those who did not make it this time, as well. Just signing up for such a daunting task and making it to the start line takes courage and, unfortunately, there will always be some who don’t make it. Maybe things can work out differently next time.
All the best,