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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

World Cup #1 Albstadt, Germany.

After settling into the Euro lifestyle again and getting in some good training the first race for our campaign kicked off over the weekend in Albstadt, Germany. Unfortunately spring has been a little slow arriving here in Europe with winter seemingly pretty keen on sticking around for a bit longer. Was hoping it would be a bit more pleasant with summer not far off but oh well I think It’s been fairly similar to what homes been getting and we’ve done pretty well to dodge the rain even though it’s been wet most days.

Our accommodation for our thirteen day stay in Germany was the ALZ Triathlon Club in Sigmaringen. A unique and slightly strange place located on the second floor in a local high school. Worked out perfect for us though with plenty of room including a large kitchen and spacious lounge and it was only just over 20mins drive to the World Cup course which allowed us to get out on the track before most riders had even arrived.
Sigmaringen Castle

All the Kiwi's outside our accommodation in Sigmaringen

The rumours circulating had been talking up the difficulty of the downhills and there was also reported to be a scary amount of steep climbing. Our first ride was completed in perfect conditions which we would probably have appreciated more if we’d know about the wet stuff to follow. The climbing was as expected. A very steep pinch to get you warmed up at the start of the lap followed by a longer but not quite as steep drag to the top of the course and then finally another slightly longer ascent to finish things off. The down hills we not as testing but enjoyable, highlighted with a couple of rock gardens some slippery roots and a step down drop.

I actually stayed off the course more than I’d expected because of the muddy conditions completing solid training on the roads around our accommodation. Still got plenty of track riding done and was feeling good and amping to race. Was prepared for a muddy day with the mud tyres on the wheels and ready to go, but race day actually dawned fine and we had great conditions so I probably could have done with the dry tires on.

The first World Cup of the season, a super exciting race as everyone starts with a clean slate. Most riders haven’t done a lot of racing in the lead up so it is a bit of an unknown when it comes to predicting how things will go. I’ve never actually managed to make it to the opening round before which makes it harder to get a good result so was eager to make the most of it.
A good start is a pretty crucial part of World Cup racing and so my 19th place start position was good and the plan was to hold around 20th for the first lap and then move up from there.
Fortunately I managed a great start, clipping in perfectly and shooting up from 3rd row up to the front of the race sitting well in the top 10 for the early part of the first lap. Riding up at the front of the race was an awesome feeling although it did back fire slightly as I probably dug a little too deep and struggled to recover losing a lot of positions to be 19th after the first lap. This was about what I had aimed to be, but a tad disappointing considering how far up I had been. Having so many people ride past me wasn’t the best for the moral either and I lost my composure crashing during the 2nd lap which although luckily caused no damage to me or the bike set me back a bit more and I lost another 6 places riding through in 25th.

Still not too bad though and from there the race took a turn for the better, I started to move up and felt back in control of my race. Everyone seemed to be pretty even and I found I would pass riders on parts of the tack only to have them come by a few minutes later. I did make it back to 20th at the end of the penultimate lap only to have a couple of riders come back at me dropping to 22nd despite a pretty decent last lap time. Almost did enough to catch 21st pulling him back on the last downhill but not quite having enough in the tank to get up for the sprint.

I had been aiming for a better finish then 22nd but the race had gone pretty well really and I just hadn’t been fast enough, particularly on the climbs. First race since Oceania’s back in March so probably can expect to improve as the trip progress and perhaps the climbing nature of the track didn’t suit my riding style so much. Anyway I am happy enough and good to get the first World Cup under the belt with a decent finish to build from for the next two rounds.
Making the big drive across to Czech for the next World Cup round now, can’t wait get onto the Nove Mesto track. Definitely my favourite course and with my best World Cup result coming here last year I’m looking forward to getting some practice in on the course for this weekend’s race. Staying with “Milky” the most hospitable accommodation owner I ever come across again this year so should be a good week.
Driving across the border into Czech Republic.

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