Illustration: Shyam G Menon

Please see the updates at the end of this article. Hirokazu Suzuki of Japan concludes his ride on June 28 evening with 4539.80km logged; VRAAM’s Facebook page mentions him as provisional winner.

Indian cyclist Lt Col Bharat Pannu has been maintaining his position in the top quartet of the ongoing Virtual Race Across America (VRAAM).

As of 12.30PM, June 27, he was placed third with 3526.01 kilometers covered. Except for Japan’s Hirokazu Suzuki who has stayed secure at the very front – at the time of writing he was at 4024.07km – positions have been switching back and forth in the tightly packed places from second to fourth. In second position, just ahead of Bharat was Putters29 (UK) at 3576.97km while in fourth, was Mixirica (Brazil) at 3477.15km.

In fifth place was Filipe Matos of Portugal with 3264.53km pedaled. From fifth to eighth place (3228.89km) as well, the riders were separated by narrow margin. As per revised race rules, the distance for being a finisher at VRAAM has been set at 3248km, reached latest by 11PM (Sydney Eastern Standard Time), June 28. Those aspiring for podium finish would continue riding. “ The winner will be the competitor who has ridden the farthest distance by the end of the race,’’ organizers had informed on June 25.

VRAAM has the same overall cut-off as RAAM – 12 days. Participating cyclists have said that tweaks to cumulative elevation gain – done reportedly to compensate for the otherwise comfortable setting of being at home and cycling on a home trainer – have made the race (and the shorter VRAW built into it) tougher than anticipated.

Meanwhile, from Indian cyclists attempting VRAW, Anand Verma was seen to have completed in 10 days, 14 hours and 34 minutes. Earlier, Vivek Shah had been the first Indian cyclist to complete VRAW; he placed eleventh overall. Following him were Jitendra, Major Sandeep Kumar (sandeeptrooper), Sachin Shirbhavikar and Praveen Sapkal; the latest being Anand Verma who placed 52nd overall. Arham Shaikh was at 1352.66km (as of 12.30PM, June 27). To finish VRAW, cyclist has to totally pedal 1528.20km in 12 days. Arham, who is part of Bharat’s support crew, started his attempt of VRAW much after the others had commenced.

Update 1: As at 10:07AM, June 28, Bharat had covered 3915.57km; he was continuing in third place. Potters29 (UK) was placed second at 4025.15km and Mixirica (Brazil) was fourth with 3878.29km under his belt. Hirokazu Suzuki with 4392.67km pedaled, was leading the field. In VRAW, Arham Shaikh completed the 1528.20km distance in seven days, 13 hours and 50 minutes to place 36th overall. Given the leaderboard is dynamic, the overall position of Indian finishers in VRAW at said hour was as follows: Vivek Shah (11), Jitendra (19), Sandeep Kumar (22), Sachin Shirbavikar (34), Arham (36), Praveen Sapkal (42) and Anand Verma (51).

Update 2: Checked at 7.50PM (IST), June 28, the VRAAM leaderboard showed that Japan’s Hirokazu Suzuki had concluded his ride at 4539.80 kilometers logged. He covered the distance in 11 days, 23 hours and two minutes. His time of finishing was given as 17:33 hours, June 28. Putters29 (UK) was in second position at 4148.40km while Bharat was third at 4086.28km. Mixirica (Brazil) was placed fourth with 4066.91km. At the time of writing, Suzuki was the only rider yet with a formal finish time. While as per revised race rules announced on June 25, anyone covering 3248km by 11PM Sydney Easter Standard Time on June 28 is deemed a VRAAM finisher “ the winner will be the competitor who has ridden the farthest distance by the end of the race.” The Facebook page of VRAAM said, “ the overall provisional winner who completed the full 4542km course is Hirokazu Suzuki.”

(The author, Shyam G Menon, is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai.)    

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