With British rider Graham Jarvis winning Red Bull Romaniacs for the second time, the world's toughest Enduro competition is over for another year. But you can relive the event by reading our final-day report and taking a look at these stunning photos...
Six days ago, 176 motivated riders kicked off the five-day Red Bull Romaniacs in Sibiu, Romania with the prologue, riding through Transylvanian countryside and abusing both their bikes and their bodies as if their lives depended on winning the thing. Martin 'Frejn' Freinademetz and his organisers prepared 600km of track, employed 400 people, distributed 20,000 litres of gas and 390 litres of Motorex oil to the 16 tank points. They also built four service points, established 40 checkpoints, provided food and accommodation for the riders and their teams, and arranged world-class rescue services and security.
Those who competed in last year's Red Bull Romaniacs and had to put up with soaking wet conditions were hoping for something better. And a rainy start to the prologue aside, their wishes came true. The weather was beautiful with the shade offered by the forest and along the river crossings bringing some respite from the heat.
Race Day Three is traditionally the day that separates the wheat from the chaff and the day's dramatic incidents reflected this. Tough men were left crying trackside, hardcore Enduro riders were ready to sell their soul and their grandmothers for a little help getting their bikes over obstacles, and all of them would've fought tooth and nail for a bit of water by the end of the day.
In amazing scenes, some of the riders actually started waving credit cards and wads of cash at spectators in an attempt to buy some help – just to try and make it through the day. Some were even seen raiding the camera teams' kits for water and falling into nearby creeks to drink like thirsty animals. These riders were truly battling through the pain barrier.
However, the cream of the world's extreme-enduro elite arrived at the finish line with broad smiles plastered across their faces. The toughest challenges of the day had been met in the morning and the riders had time to recover with some smooth riding, catching some of the countryside's beauty and refreshing themselves in high-speed river crossings. But it wasn't long before they were put to the test again. New Zealand's Chris Birch described Day Four as the toughest of the lot.
The best rider of the competition was Britain's Graham Jarvis. He dominated throughout and won Red Bull Romaniacs for the second time. Just like everyone else, though, he went to extremes to get past the most difficult sections along the PRO-track, enduring crashes, making repairs to his bike and fighting off exhaustion. But he rode 'like a surgeon', precise yet speedily, and had just enough extra energy to claim a well-earned victory.
Graham had New Zealand's Chris Birch on his heels throughout the entire race. The committed Kiwi delivered an excellent ride and is already thinking about his next race in South Africa on Saturday – even after crashing his bike into a tree on Day Three. Said Chris: 'Today [Day Four] I had my hardest day so far. This was quite tough but definitely a fun ride. Coming second to Graham is okay in my book – the guy is incredible. And I love this race. If anyone out there is thinking about doing it, I can only encourage you. I've done all sorts of races around the world and this is by far the best. Just make sure you pick the right class!'
Germany's Andi Lettenbichler came third, the UK's Paul Bolton was fourth and an impressive 124 out of 176 riders ended the race.
Left to right: second-placed Chris Birch, winner Graham Jarvis and third-place Andi Lettenbichler raise their thumbs in triumph.
Photos: Predrag Vuckovic, Mihai Stetcu © Red Bull Content Pool
Report: Andreea Torba