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.