Madrid World Cup, Sunday May 23, 2004

It was a clear day for the Madrid World Cup held in the middle of the city in the old royal hunting grounds of 'Casa de Campo' (some 1600 hectares of Park!) This was quite a contrast to the previous 2 days when rain showers persisted throughout. Given the weather changes, and the possiblity of even more rain I opted for my mud tyres - Maxxis High Rollers over the Larsen TT.

The local Maxxis guys helped me out by letting me base myself at their tent. Christian had sussed me out a windtrainer through EBay which we collected in Germany on our way to Spain, and this provided the ideal warm up. Race start was 10am. 82 competitors lined up for 4 laps of an 8km circuit. The start rankings were based on last years World Cup Series points - I didn't compete in the entire series so was ranked 47th on the startline. A top 25 placing was going to be a big ask with this start position and the quality of the competition, all chasing Olympic spots for their own countries.

The start was crazy - as all World Cup starts are. There was no start loop but just a short piece of road before hitting the first piece of singletrack and hill climb. With such a big bunch hitting the singletrack at the same time, it wasn't long til the first crash and someone's bike lay horizontal across the track while the rider lay part way over the bank. No one could pass. Needless to say there was a lot of yelling going on as everyone was desperate not to lose touch with the lead group. Most of the hill climbs were short and extremely sharp, so sharp that some riders opted to run the climbs (including eventual winner Gunn Rita Dahle). In the first lap, with such conjestion we all had no choice but to jump off and push our bikes. As things settled, little packs started to form which helped when powering along the flats, and taking the opportunity of some slipstreaming. I was sitting comfortably alongside Aussie Champ Lisa Matthison, and we were chasing a small pack just ahead of us.

At the end of the first lap I was in 50th place. I started making up some places during the short 'power' climbs by cranking a bigger gear. The single track was flowing and fast so it was great for keeping the power on. There was not much time for rest. I hardly had time to drink anything - lucky it wasn't too hot. In the 3rd lap I dropped a chain losing me 5 places and losing Lisa's wheel. This was a disappointment. I chased hard to get back with the pack and try to regain the lost places and then some more. This took me into the final lap. I managed to dig deep to gain 4 places within the final 4km. I finished in 42nd place in a time of 1 hour 47 minutes (12 minutes 14 seconds down on the winner). Lisa finished 37th.

It's hard to know what I'm feeling. I gave it my all out there. I'm satisfied with my effort but still a little disappointed at my placing. I was 2 minutes 46 seconds out of the top 25.

Next week I'll be racing at the 2nd World Cup in Houffalize in Belgium.

I've posted some photo's from the race here

Update from Madrid

Quick Update from Biel-Bienne, Switzerland

Arrived in Germany safe and sound and collected our new home. Wahoo. She's perfect! Check out the gallery page if you haven't already seen some pics. We have to say a huge thanks to Christian's relatives Lizzie and Lothar for organising all the paper work for us.

We got to put the camper to her tests by travelling to my first race in Innertkirchen, Switzerland where it was SNOWING! Yes, we thought we were going to the European Summer. So we found out that the camper doesn't leak and the gas heating and water works very well. Also important is that it travels alot faster than DOT (last year's camper) making it up to 120kmph (on a good day...... going downhill....with a tailwind).

Anyway, the Swiss Power Cup race wasn't so good with a 15th place. Not ideal prep with the many days of travel and the horridly cold conditions. Nevertheless, it was good to blow out the cobwebs.

This weekend I'm racing a criterium in Oberriet, not too far from Zurich. 60 laps in 50 minutes. Should be some good speed work!

Made it to LA