European Championship in XCM

After checking the race course for the European Championships on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I rested on Friday. I only washed our bikes in the garden and enjoyed the warm and sunny weather. It was nice to feel the sun after so many rainy and grey days.
On Saturday I rode one more time the last part of the course. I wanted to know one more time how the trails and the corners looked like so I would know where I had to be careful if it would come to a sprint finish.
20 years ago I rode my first European Championships in Trutnov, under 23 road race. 20 years later I was again i Czech Republic taking part in a European Championship.
Sunday morning. Race day. A course I really liked. A course that was a lot about good tactics and keeping your head calm. I felt good, my legs felt just fine. Ready to fight. I only did a short warm up. There was no point to do a long warm up. I knew from previous years that it would be a slow start. So enough time to get going.
For the first part of the race I stayed in either second or third place. I had earlier decided that the first time I will go up in the front is at km 15. The first serious steep  single track climb. On top of the climb we were only 5 riders left in  the front group. Great, this is how I wanted it to be. I continued to keep an eye on everyone in the front group. Trying to figure out how they felt  and how I could be able to get rid of them. I knew very soon that Britain’s Sally Bigham would be hard to drop, or impossible to drop. Her climbing abilities are on a top level, so I had to go for another tactic, but first I had to get rid of the Germans Elisabeth Brandau and Silke Schmidt. At km 45 in one of the many steep climbs on the latter part of the course,  we managed to go away with Sally. So now I could continue with my plan. My plan was so easy, but at the same time so difficult, i.e. leave it to a sprint finish. So for the last 30km I was just getting ready for the sprint. There is not much you think about during the last part f the race. You only stay focused and you try to save your legs as much as possible.
As we came closer to the finish area I was able to make myself a picture on how windy it was and from which direction the wind came. Tailwind on the last 50 meters long stretch, 300 meters headwind before the last stretch.
Still 5 km to go. Stay focused, stay calm. We passed one male rider, who started 15minutes before us. I think he was not really aware of that we were fighting for the gold and what we really not needed at this time of the race was a male rider who would join us and possibly sprint with us. I got mad and grabbed his arm and pushed him away. He was first confused and wanted to start and complain, but did not and stayed away from us.
2km to go and one last single track downhill. I got a littel gap to Sally, but she came back on the last 300 meter long climb. She passed me before the top of the climb. I let her. It was fine for me that she pushed against the wind before the final 300meters with a couple of corners to do before the final stretch. 300 meters to go I pushed myself in the front and did not give this position away anymore. Today I got my third blue jerseys with yellow stars. This time the national anthymn was also played from the beginning until the end. Being close to Liberec I knew it would not be a problem for the organizer to find the finnish anthymn. They have had so many world cups and world campionships in xco skiing and there the Finns have been successful as well.
I also got a big Toblerone Chocolate bar. I hardly was able to carry it down from the podium, so big it is. Think I will have to ask all my friends to come over when the season is over in October and we will have a big chocolate party. 4,5kg of chocolate is a lot! 🙂

1 Response to “European Championship in XCM”

  1. 1 2012 European Marathon MTB Championships : Trackback on June 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm

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