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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Racer Bikes Cup Final, Muttenz.

With World Champs fast approaching the final round in the Racer Bikes Cup series would serve as a great last hit out before the big one on the third of September. It was also my last weekend in Switzerland after almost three months of training and racing.
Luckily for us the wet and cold weather that we had experienced in our last couple of weeks was put on hold, as summer made one last effort and treated us to brilliant weather for our final days in the Country. Arriving in Basel we were surprised to find the track was quite close to the main City and it seemed to be a very unlikely venue for a Mountain Bike race. There wasn’t really much to the track either. It was predominantly flat with very little in the way of single track. The main highlight was a small but fairly steep climb followed by a fast descent and apart from a small section in the main start finish area the rest was open & flat. Despite this it was a good race venue as it allowed a lot of people to come and watch. The start finish area was in a horse race track with a grandstand and there was a good atmosphere with the main start loop and finish line on the horse track and a few twists and turns with a couple of jumps to keep the spectators happy in the middle. The start list was very strong with the race being the last in Europe before all the top riders headed to North America for the final World Cup in New York and then Worlds in Mont Sainte Anne, Canada.
The race itself was very frustrating as it turned out to be a bit like a road race with big groups forming and a lot of mucking around with no one wanting to drive the pace. I perhaps made the mistake of pushing a bit too hard early on and through the middle of the race. I was strong up the climb and would attack there every lap, trying to get further up in the race but would get run down by the big bunch of riders that had formed mid field and then the speed would slow right down again as no one wanted to set the pace, with a group of riders sitting on their wheel. Eventually I did manage to get a bit of a gap but by then I had run out of gas and was slowly reeled in over the last couple of laps dropping down to 27th.
I wasn’t very pleased with my result as I would have liked to have finished higher but it was very good training and perfect preparation for Worlds.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Mountain Bike World Cup #5 Val di Sole, Italy.

I have really enjoyed the last couple of weeks, the atmosphere and hype that surrounds the Mountain Bike World Cup Series is very special I have had a great time. Getting the chance to go up against the world’s best is awesome.

I was confident that with the better start position I had earned for this race I was in with a good chance of getting a stronger result than my last outing in Champery. Lining up in 102 position meant that I moved up several rows on the grid from the 129 place I started in the previous weekend. The track was also better suited to cope with the huge amount of riders competing. A lot of time would be spent climbing and all the descents were short and fast. Even better the majority of the track was wide enough to allow passing reducing the bottle necks that are sure to occur as riders fought to get to the front.

Conditions on `D Day’ were perfect, dry and very fast and I was feeling good on the track. I was more nervous for this one. I knew that I could do well here and didn’t want to blow my chance. It was also the first time racing in my new - New Zealand U23 National Champions jersey so I was excited about that.

Unfortunately my start let me down. Just after the start a crash occurred immediately in front of me, with no room to manoeuvre my progress was halted and I lost valuable race position. At this level you can’t afford to lose places from the gun and by dropping back to 133rd after the first lap I was in for a hard battle for the remainder of the race. Still I was riding well. My legs felt great and I steadily made progress throughout the race. The Santacruz Blur XC was running beautifully and my speed on the climbs in particular was good. The 2nd and 3rd laps I hauled in a lot of riders but by the fifth lap I had hit the wall and had to really tough it out to hold on to the finish. In the end I had to settle for 96th place out of 196 starters, 1 lap down on winner World Champion Nino Schurter. It wasn’t quite what I was aiming for but on a positive note it was an improvement from last week and I did make up plenty of places from the poor first lap. Against the U23 riders today, I finished 27th. Only five weeks left to go till World Championships in Canada so the next few weeks will be packed with plenty of quality training and I will be sure to place particular emphasis on my starts. Looking forward to an easy recovery day tomorrow.