The atmosphere here is just amazing. Yet again we have the enthusiastic Peter Graves as commentator - he really rarks things up. T-Mobile are the major sponsors and providing pics on the big screen in the village from around the course. The music is pumping, the huge crowds are cheering - Lisa Matthison from Australia is still leading with a 2 minute lead and Myra is sitting in 19th.
Hi from Kaprun
Just a quick update about the course and conditions here at the Mountain Bike World Championships in Kaprun. The event is fully underway with the seeding runs for the Downhillers taking place yesterday. Today sees the Junior Women (Myra Moller) and Junior Men (Marcus Roy and Scott Lyttle) racing the cross country course. The course is about 8km so the Women are up for 2 and a quarter laps (additional 2km) and the Men are up for 3 complete laps. So far Myra has had a great start and is sitting in the top 20 - out of 31 starters from 18 nations. Little Lisa Matthison from Australia who competed in our Rotorua Finals last year (and bet me) is sitting in 1st place.
I think a lap will take the elite woman around half an hour - 30 minutes of full on challenging track. It has everything including very steep climbs and very steep descents. It´s one that the strongest rider will win. The descent is full on technical which I think will force many riders off their bikes. Definitely a good spectating course. I think we will be on 4 laps and the Elite Men 5.
1.5 days to go and counting. I´m up at 9am Sunday September 1.
Better get back to the action. More soon.
I wasn’t feeling at my sharpest today. Possibly it had something to do with having a fairly hard week of training before tapering for the Worlds? I was initially unsure of the calibre of the competition, but expected that since Savognin was so close to Austria, there might be a few riders here on their way to the Worlds. However there was also a European cup on in Italy today so a few others might be there instead.
During my warm-up I spotted Caroline Alexander (the UK Champ), the Greek and Swedish National teams (one of which was riding an Avanti), but there was no sign of Barbara Blatter, Sabine Spitz or any of the Aussie Contingent.
The gun fired at 2:05pm. The Junior Men and Masters started slightly before the Women. It was a fast start and sticking to good old Swiss custom, it went straight up a huge hill. It was a fairly steep sealed road for the first 300m, then a steep dirt road for the next 500m, then easing off ever so slightly for the last 700m or so. I had a pretty good start, muscling my way into 6th after the first 20m. But after the fast start the legs started to burn and a few riders passed me on the steeper section. The track zigzagged up the hill and I could see Caroline at the front starting to open a gap on us. A couple of others moved around me. Over the top I was sitting around 12th.
We had 4 laps on the agenda today. Each lap was 5km; the first 1.5km was all up hill, followed by a 1.5km descent with a steep semi-technical section. The course passed back close to the start/finish and then did a lap around a small lake and back to the finish via a chairlift station. It was a fast course - about 20 minutes per lap. The setting was spectacular! Savognin at 1200m is a ski village situated in the bottom of a valley with beautiful mountains towering all around and as far as the eye could see. Some were still capped in snow.By lap 2 I started getting into the race. My legs started coming right. My climbing was strong, I powered along the flats, and I passed 4 riders to move into 8th. By lap 3 the rain came down but not enough to change the course characteristics. Some of the off-camber grassy switchback descents and wooden bridges would have been pretty interesting if it were more slippery out there.
Lap 4, the last lap, and the withdrawal of Caroline Alexander moved me up to 7th so I tried to keep the pace on and finish off strong. I was happy that I maintained my position and crossed the line for a solid 7th place. For official website click here. Results as follows:
1 Maroussia Rusca, Bulle 01:14:16
2 Sonja Traxel, Silenen 01:15:39
3 Katrin Leumann, Riehen 01:15:50
4 Anna Enocsson, Sweden 01:16:54
5 Nadia Walker, Silenen 01:18:16
6 Joelle Fahrni, La Corbatiere 01:21:05
7 Robyn Wong, New Zealand 01:21:47 8 Bettina Schmid, Seon 01:23:03
9 Sarah Koba, Buchs 01:23:41
10 Maria Landström, Sweden 01:24:37
11 Elina Sophokleous, Nicosia 01:25:10
12 Daniela Graf, Kriessern 01:26:31
13 Bianca Morandi, Zug 01:28:57
14 Fabienne Niederberger, La Tour de Treme 01:29:44
DNF Gabriela Meier, Zürich
DNF Caroline Alexander, Cumbria (GB)
Sunday August 18th, Swiss Cup #7 - La Chaux de Fonds
It was another tough Swiss race. It was a “top class” race, which tells you something about the calibre of riders. The top European mountain bikers are attracted to these races for the great prize money and start money (and free accommodation). Being so close to the World Champs, this race was also a selection race for many nations - so there was a lot at stake.
La Chaux de Fonds turned it on with the weather – I’m guessing around 30 degrees today. Set in a valley, the small township is quite picturesque. And a large crowd turned out despite the other 2 major events happening in the area today.
I enjoyed the course much better than my last Swiss Cup in Perrefitte. The weather may have played a part in that, but this course had more variety with technical sections and fun descents. Each lap was 9.8km long and the elite women were treated to 3 laps with included 330m of climbing per lap. The elite men were up for 4.
The start was, as per usual, hard and fast. I managed to get a position on the 2nd row, but on the gun one rider tangled her handlebars in mine causing me to lose about 10 places. Luckily I managed to keep it upright. Each lap started with a steep 500m sealed climb, ascending 100m in altitude. After my bad start I endeavoured to pluck riders off on the climbs. I expected each lap to take the leaders about 30 minutes so I knew it would be a short race. I intended to go hard on all the hills. At 3km there was another huge climb of about 2km rising 150m. I was feeling strong and gained a considerable number of places during the first lap. Across the top it was all big ring and groups of riders formed. I was just off the back of 5 riders, including Dellys Franke from Australia.
Through the feed zone for the first time I realised I hadn’t been drinking and on such a hot day, it was going to be critical to keep up the liquids. Not too much changed in the 2nd lap though we were all very close which makes quite a change in women’s racing. By the 3rd lap my legs were starting to feel the effects of the steep climbs. I felt myself ease back though I managed to come right on the flats and keep the power on. I finished in 19th place, 13 minutes down on Germany’s Sabine Spitz who narrowly took the win over Swiss rider Petra Henzi.
The Eiger Bike Challenge in Grindelwald, just under 100km south of Biel had an early 7:30am start on Sunday morning so it was necessary to head down on Saturday. We drove down in Sinc’s (Chris Sinclair's) campervan, intending to crash the night in the van but the weather didn’t improve at all. The touristy day in Interlaken was particularly wet. And Sinc’s van decided to leak so it could possibly have been a very damp night.
Interlaken is right on the lake, thus very picturesque - the little we could see between the pouring rain. We continued a futher 20km to the small village of Grindelwald at 900m in altitude. After a lot of contemplation (as I considered not racing) I collected my race pack. We got an awesome cycling jacket in our pack – not too shabby at all, and I knew it would come in very handy…I didn’t quite expect it to be quite this soon though. Then the big call – the van or alternative accommodation, which wasn’t particularly cheap. We found an apartment directly opposite the race village and were offered the apartment for a shower after the race. We were sold – warmth, Eurosport, cooking facilities, dry clothing and hot showers after the ace. Well worth the money.
It was an early start. Christian was up at 4am. I casually climbed out of bed at 4:45am. Breakfast was also included in my race entry so Christian did the mission to collect it. Christian was racing today as well…but 50km north, so they left for Kirchdorf at 6am.
I turned up at the start at 7am as planned however the 90km racers were delayed 30 minutes. It was freezing cold and still pouring with rain. By the time I got to the start I was already wet and cold. Yet again I contemplated not racing as thoughts of hypothermia and a destroyed bike ran through my mind.
I opted for the shorter 58km course. But still, there was 2,500m of climbing! Click here for a profile of the course. The 58km course is the black then red line; 90km course is the black line. The 90km course was changed at the last minute due to the terrible weather conditions so they rode the same as the 58km course until close to the finish where they turned off and climbed another 900m. Tim Vincent and Stuart Houltham went for the 90km course, taking about four and a half hours.
Kick off 7:50am.
Mass start for the men and women licensed riders – I’m guessing about 500. Since I didn’t have a warm up I eased into the first climb – this could have been a mistake. I did not see all my competition on the start line in amongst the men, so I didn’t know how many were in front of me.
The race was freezing cold. It was 7 degrees in the village at 7am, though we climbed to 2,160m in the first climb. I’m not sure what the temperature was up there, but there was snow! I lost all feeling in my fingertips, which made changing gears very difficult. Early on in the race I lost my easiest gear, but luckily the hills weren’t of the steepness where granny was required. I kept a high cadence and a steady heart rate to ascend the 20km - about an hour and a quarter of climbing. I was happy with my climbing steadily plucking off the guys and picking a wheel with a good pace.
The descent however was cold, dam cold and muddy. By now I was shoving my hands in my mouth to try to get some feeling into my fingertips. My toes were long gone but they weren’t necessary anyway. En route there were plenty of feed zones with water, ice tea, electrolyte drink and food (gels, banana’s, oranges, dried apricots, and cake), massage stops, and mechanical stops. I thought about stopping at the park tools stop to see to my rear brake, however there were a few people queued so I thought I’d continue on. My rear brake cable was catching so this made descending even sketchier – when I put my brake on, it stayed on. By the end of the race I was sure I was close to the metal, as I had to squeeze the brake levers to the handlebars.
The number of support people (with their cow bells), marshals and feed zone helpers were incredible. I know where I would rather have been on a morning such as this.
However, I’m sure the scenery would have been spectacular if it was possible to see anything. At one stage the mist was so bad, I could hardly see 50m in front. There was a section of winding, fun single walking track next to the roaring river. Most of the other descents were high-speed gravel, mud or seal. It was not a technical course at all. There were a few steps but they were pretty tame. And there was one walking section. And luckily there was only one shallow river crossing. During the last quarter of the race, my gear cables were giving me grief – now it was difficult to find a gear to ride in.
So one word sums up the race. Cold! It has to rate as one of the most miserable experiences I’ve had – though I’m glad it’s over and have another story to tell. I finished up 7th in the Women's field in a time of 3 hours 39 minutes.
Official results from Les Tcherattes (August 3, 2002):
Transsexual named for Canadian Women's MTB Team This is an interesting one. Check it out...
Michelle Dumaresq, the athlete formerly known as Michael, has been selected to ride for the Canadian women's national mountain bike team. Dumaresq, who received a sex-change operation to become a woman six years ago, will represent Canada at the world championships in Kaprun, Austria.
Dumaresq's selection has been met with protests - not from the other national teams - but from her own. Two of her Canadian teammates, Cassandra Boon and Sylvie Allen, lodged a complaint with the UCI, requesting intervention in the situation. In their letter, the two also requested that the UCI consider the creation of a new transsexual racing category.
"Something about the situation just doesn't seem fair," Allen told the National Post. But despite the protest from within her own team, Michelle Dumaresq remains excited over her selection.
Courtesy of www.cyclingnews.com
We took a couple of days off the bike and headed to Germany to visit Christian’s relatives. The city of Nurnberg, two and a half hours south of Frankfurt was much larger than I expected with a population of close on to half a million people. The 2 days were filled with eating, eating, beer drinking, more eating and lots of laughter. We dined at the very popular Bratwursthaus and ate a fine meal of Liberknodelsuppe (dumpling soup) Bratwurst sausages and sauerkraut. We walked around the old city, we visited a beautiful church, the castle, the cobbled pedestrian area, and shopped. An excellent couple of days.
It was another amazing day for me in Switzerland. This time it wasn’t Lance Armstrong, nor was it the weather as it was pouring with rain – it was the incredible hospitality of the locals and the reception I received by the race organisers in the tiny quaint town of Epauvillers. And it was my first win in Switzerland!
I didn’t expect the competition to be extensive or the course to be technical since Les Tcherattes was a regional race and the top guns would be competing at the European Championships in Zurich.
Earlier in the week I emailed the organiser to ask about entry and the course. The Swiss calendar had described it as PP – Point to point race – so I imagined some logistical problems for myself flying solo. I asked for free entry and enquired into prize money however the language barrier was a huge problem when the organisers rang and emailed to confirm entry. Finally we worked out that they were thrilled that I was coming to the race. They would collect me from the train station, there would be no start money but they offered me a free start, and they would provide prize money if I won. Well, that was enough for me to make the train trip to St Ursanne.
At the start I was introduced to the front row and I constantly heard my name over the microphone in amongst the French commentary. About 20 other latecomers were ushered in front of me since there was no other entry to the starting chute behind us. Among them there was a Bernasconi Swiss team rider, a familiar female face from the last Swiss Cup in Perrefitte - a very good rider who finished 5 places ahead of me that day. I knew that today wasn’t going to be an easy race.
It was the 13th year for this race and the women’s record was 1 hour 26 minutes set back in 1995 and no one was expected to contest this record due to the muddy conditions that awaited us. Click here to see a profile of the course.
The 27km course was fast and furious and I had to jostle for position against the juniors and seniors, men and women, as we all started together. The first hill was a power roadie climb of about 4km rising 200m and after a strong start I took the lead of the women’s field. I rode controlled on the fast flowing but particularly muddy descent, however the aggressive Bernasconi rider passed me just before the bottom and gained a little time heading into the rolling section. She managed to hold her advantage along the short sealed road and tucked in behind a few men to gain a few more seconds. The figure eight course took us back through the small village where I was lifted by the tremendous cheering and enthusiastic supporters. Throughout the race there were numerous feed zones providing water bottles and cups – though these were unnecessary today as it was overcast and cool. We were warned about the dangerous descent at about 20km, and the singletrack river section to follow was rocky and technical.
2km to go…
Steepest hill of the day…
All uphill to the finish…
40 seconds to make back…
My legs felt great…
I was on fire…
The steep technical loose climb reminded me of Deadwoods (the 1st climb in the Karapoti) which caused many riders to dismount and push. One by one I plucked off the men and saw I was catching the lead woman. When I was on her wheel I strategised when I was going to attack. I picked my spot and with 50m to the summit, amongst all the cheers, I launched around the outside and powered to the top. I hammered the final 1km on adrenalin to cross the finish line first with a huge applause from the crowd.
It was then that I met Joelle Fahrni, the Bernasconi rider. I was rapt that she spoke a little English as we could chat about the race. She also translated the organiser’s delight that I won and was so close (only 1 minute 30 seconds) to breaking the record in such bad conditions.
Once showered and bike semi cleansed of mud, I was able to enjoy the atmosphere and the celebrations. I was treated to a meal of jambon and frites (ham and fries), given a t-shirt, and highly appraised at the prize giving.
I would like to thank the organiser Louis Willemin for his kind hospitality and looking after me so well. I thoroughly enjoyed my day. Also thanks to Joelle and the Bernasconi team for their company and the ride back to Bienne.
Over the last couple of weeks we’ve made the most of the brilliant 30-degree weather around Biel to get in some quality training. Last week totalled 21 hours and 580km, which included our “day off” to the Tour de France. On Sunday Christian and I enjoyed a five and a half hour 155km trip around the 2 beautiful lakes of Biel and NeuChatel.
The Perrefitte Swiss Cup was my last race on July 14. The weekend after that I opted not to race the Swiss Bike Masters, a huge 120km marathon event (including 5,000m of climbing) but Tim Vincent raced and finished 18th (www.eurobike.ch). Keep an eye on his website at www.timvincent.co.nz for a report.
Still, there is plenty of Mountain Bike racing. Last weekend the Swiss National Championships were held but unfortunately without a Swiss cycling licence I could not compete. And this weekend the European Championships will be held in Zurich – yet again I am ineligible to enter as it is a Continental Champs race.
However August shall be fairly busy on the racing front in build up to the World Champs on September 1. Here is a rough plan of races:
What better way to make the most of our Monday recovery ride than to ride out to the small quaint town of Murten, 35km South East of Biel, to visit Andrew James and the Team Phonak Service Course. For those of you who don’t know Andrew - he is from Wellington, used to work as a Mechanic at Pins Cycles and is now a team mechanic for the Division 1 Pro team Phonak, based in Switzerland.
We were invited to visit the ‘service course’, a huge building stacked to the brim with bikes, frames, wheelsets, campag record componenty, and team clothing, a fully spec’d workshop, and fully kitted out team vans and busses.
The Phonak team had just finished a successful Sachen Tour or Germany, where their star rider Oscar Camezind finished 1st. It was great to hear many a story from Andrew and to imagine what life would be like as a Pro road cyclist.
Here's a pic of the AJ's Team Phonak Smart Car - a popular car around Switzerland and in the convoy of the Pro Peloton. The Smart car is a joint venture between Swatch and Mercedes Benz and is big enough for 2!