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Monday, April 30, 2012

La Zeta Bike, Jura Alp Cup #1

After last weeks disappointment at the BMC Cup in Tesserete I was aiming to ride strong for the full duration for this one. The race was the first round of the Jura Alp Cup near Neuchatel and was not the same level as a BMC Swiss Cup but still a tough race with some strong riders.

The course was nice with the majority on forest roads but there was also some good single trail. A start loop and then a big loop with the longest climb and then two laps of a shorter finishing circuit were the format with a total distance of 28km.

Round the start loop I stayed out of trouble near the front and then surged a bit to take the lead as we headed out onto the big first lap. For a while I held a small lead over a group of about five riders and was considering easing off and letting them catch up as I was just dangling off the front and not really making much progress. However the race favourite Martin Fanger made a move and although I was unable to hold his wheel  no one else came up with him so I was confident that I was stronger as they would almost certainly be up there if they were fast enough. Martin slowly eased away and with so much road riding on the course I wasn’t too disappointed when I was joined by local Road/MTB racer Nicolas Luthi. We worked well together although I did most of the pace setting as I was keen to keep away from the chasing pack and was also using the day as a hard training session.

Over the last quarter of the race I attacked several times but found it hard to hold any decent gap and each time Nicolas was able to come back. Realising I wasn’t going to be able to get away and it was most likely going to end in a sprint I slowed up a bit and he had a go at attacking me. I now had his wheel and was fairly confident I would be able to match him in the finish. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, he kicked harder and I had to settle for third.

I am much more satisfied with this result. I still have a bit of work to do but I am on the right track. I am racing again next weekend at the BMC Racing Cup in Solothurn which will be a final hit out before my main target for this trip, the two World Cup rounds in May.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BMC Racing Cup - Tesserete

A completely new venue for me and one of the few times I have visited the lower Italian part of Switzerland. The course was very good and a lot of fun to ride. It didn’t seem too hard in practice with no real sustained climbing bit it did have several very steep short pinches. There were a lot of nice root and rock features with plenty of alternate lines for passing.
On Saturday the course was pretty dry with only the odd mud bog but the rain came down heavily all night soaking the track and making for some very tricky riding conditions for the morning races. By two when our race started it had mostly dried but the rain did leave some wet areas which as the race went on covered our bikes in thick heavy mud and made for pretty slow going. A couple of sections in particular where very bad and they killed the legs having to slog through each lap.

I had a great start sitting in or around the top 10 for the first three laps. The pace was very fast but I wasn’t feeling like it was impossible to hold it and was confident I could ride to a top 10 finish. The course was very demanding when ridden at race pace with little chance to recover. Because of the rain a couple of the steep climbs became virtually impossible to ride and we were forced to dismount and scramble cyclocross style to the top.
Unfortunately after a great first half of the race things unravelled badly on the 4th lap with 2 laps remaining.  I crashed hard on a descent and this threw my rhythm completely. I blew up pretty badly and lost all my speed creeping round the track for the next lap and very close to pulling the pin. I forced myself to carry on to the end and did improve slightly on the last lap finishing in 30th place.

So not the best start, however there a lot of positives I can take from this one and I have already moved on and am focusing on the upcoming races. I will be back in action again this weekend and will be looking to put together a more complete race.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Switzerland, Take 3.

I am now 3 days into my Swiss trip, currently based in Glarus enjoying the hospitality of Rudy Hauser. This year I am going to be here for just over two months and will pack in as much racing as I can including two World Cup rounds. One in the Czech Republic and the other in France. This will be my third year coming over to Europe for the European racing experience and I am hoping that after a couple of years learning the ropes I can get down and start getting some good results. Glarus looks like it will be an ideal location to stay with great training terrain. There is no shortage of climbing with mountains on either side of the flat valley floor and good single track coming back down, (going uphill is mostly done on road because the hills are so steep making the single trail almost impossible to climb).

Arriving in Zurich to be greeted by a freezing 6 degrees and rain had me wondering what I was in for but I have been assured that this isn’t usual for this time of year and things should warm up again soon. Fingers crossed!

So my first ride was pretty chilly, luckily there are so many climbs around to warm up on although going down is a different story. It was gently snowing near the top of the climb we did which was pretty cool and heading back down over the damp rocks and roots was tricky with some loose moments. The trails are definitely not like Rotorua around here and it takes awhile to adjust to the skills required to make it down in one piece. By the finish my face had begun to go numb and even though I enjoyed the ride I was glad to have a shower and warm up again.

My first race is this Sunday at the second round of the BMC Swiss Cup in Tesserete. I have come off the NZ season in good condition and after having a short rest I am feeling nice and refreshed and am certainly not lacking motivation. It will be a good test of my current form, can’t wait.