I managed to borrow a car to get to this one and so was able to avoid the trains which I am not quite so keen on after Geneva. The Fiat Punto had seen better days but it was so good to be able to use it. As I would be travelling with Anton it was looking like being a tight squeeze to fit all our gear but everything packed in nicely and we set off for a solid days drive to Italy. It was slow going with a lot of traffic and small roads and we noticed that the fuel gauge wasn’t super accurate. It tended to move around a bit and couldn’t make up its mind on how much was left in the tank. We had a fairly big climb of the Paso d Aprica coming up and with supposedly a quarter of a tank left we began heading upwards. Things went well to begin with, but with about 3kms remaining to the top we ran out of gas. Thankfully after standing around for a few minutes a couple of friendly locals stopped and we were able to explain the situation and they were kind enough to run Anton to the nearest petrol station to fill up a container to get us to the top. It was all part of the fun and we were soon back on the road for another couple of hours of tight and twisty mountain roads and congested towns making it to our accommodation in Dimaro just after 7:00pm.
I got in some good course reconnaissance over the next few days and enjoyed soaking up the excitement of a World Cup race again. The track was very similar to the previous year but it flowed a lot better with a new climb and descent mid way through the lap and a grass section removed to shorten it down. Not really all that technical it was however a very tough course with such a large amount of climbing and all very steep with not really any chance to recover and get your breath back.
It was super hot all week and I was very glad the U23 mens race was at 9:00am meaning we avoided the high 30 degree temperatures later in the day. It was a big field of 93 starters and we had a start loop plus 5 laps. The beginning of the race was chaotic as usual at a World Cup and I was unable to avoid the carnage ending up with pedal jammed in my front wheel. Getting going again I was keen to get on with it but was slowed every time the track narrowed and lost more places riding through way back in 69th after the first lap which was definitely not where I wanted to be. I went pretty well from there and coming into the final few laps was sitting around 40th. There were a lot of riders not too far in front and I made a big effort to gain some extra places getting up to maybe 34th with half a lap remaining. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to hold this and crumbled on the last steep climb falling back down to 39th. Not the result I was after but on a positive note finishing only 5min behind the winner is not a lot especially on such a brutal track.
Getting a good tough race in my legs has been very good especially with just two weeks remaining till the World Championships and although my result in Italy wasn’t spectacular it was a good to see that I am not too far off the pace. I am a big fan of the Champery course and am confident I have the ability to get up into more satisfactory position come World Champs time. I have another week here in Brot Plamboz and then on Saturday I head to Champery to meet up with the New Zealand team and get to know the track before race day on Friday the 2nd of September.