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Thursday, September 13, 2012

2012 Mountain Bike World Championships, Saalfelden Austria.

World Champs are now over for another year. The “Worlds” are the pinnacle event of the season with everybody in top shape and hunting for a result to satisfy their personal goals. Myself and team mate Tom Bradshaw had the misfortune to pick up the flu in the lead up so I wasn’t in top shape but was looking to get through as well as possible. The track wasn’t overly difficult physically or technically but would be good for racing with heaps of passing opportunities. The week’s weather had generally been fine so the majority of the course was dry except for the forest sections at the top end which were still damp. It was a bit sketchy here and made it more interesting but wasn’t a large enough part of the track to make a major difference.

I hadn’t felt great the day before and during the warm up could tell it would be a difficult race. But I had a surprisingly strong start, out performing my often poor beginnings coming through in 23rd after the start lap. I was really forcing it though and after the first full lap had dropped back to 26th. I wasn’t feeling too flash on the long strength climb at the beginning of the lap losing big ground to the riders around me. Through the forest sections at the top end of the course I could hold my own by taking risks on the descents but would again lose ground on the second major uphill on the tarseal back up into the forest in the second half of the lap. I yo yoed around in the mid 20s the whole race holding my own in the slippery stuff but out in the open on the fast drag climbs the pace was too much. I was unable to hold off several riders over the last two laps but wasn’t too displeased in the end to take 28th as it could easily have been a lot worse.

It is frustrating when you fall below your personal expectations but it is also hugely motivating. I am determined to improve next year and already have a lot of ideas on how it’s going to happen. The World Champs are always an awesome experience and this year was no different. Living with the NZ team and catching up and making new friends with people from all round the world. The race may not have gone the way I wanted it to but I still had a great time and will make sure I am back next year in South Africa.

Photos courtesy of Marius Maasewerd.

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