Just a quick blog to report on the first round of the MTBO World Cup. We have limited internet, so for now you will have to do with a brief report!
We were both focussed for the sprint race but also a little to excited in our heads. I missed a junction to the first control losing 10 secs, and then 25 secs to the second due to faffing with punching and then not seeing the shortcut in the terrain. After this I had a mostly perfect race, very controlled mentally and finished in 2nd, just 5 secs behind Marika Hara in 1st. Eeva Liisa Hakala completed the top three with a time 20 seconds behind me. A little disappointing for me, but 2nd isn´t bad …
Hans Jørgen had a fantastic race throughout, coming to the finish just 2 secs behind 1st. Then he realised he had missed a control (and ridden straight past it) so was classed a mispunch. With touch free punching, ironically, the control would have registered without him knowing!
For the long distance we knew the mass start would be hard fought and easily lost. We had no idea of the gaffling, so it was very much a ´ride-your-own-race´type event but with everyone staying very close together. Myself, Ingrid Stengård and Martina Tichovska took the lead after some controls and from there it was a game of cat-and-mouse. We had the same gaffling always and as we approached the final controls, our route to the next was back the way we came. It was then I realised how close the field still was as we had to pass about 10 athletes each time. One small mistake and too many places would be lost. At the final control it was Marika, Ingrid and myself, with me hugging their back wheels. Annoyingly, I got a branch in my spokes as I punched a lost a few seconds. By then it was too late to contest the final sprint, which Ingrid won, so I ended 3rd, about 5-8 seconds down (no light beam finish so exact time unknown). A pleasing performance for what was a hard fought race, with no attack to get away being successful. I found the race really great fun, pulling some jumps over root sections and enjoying the singletrack which took away my leg pain!
Hans Jørgen´s 6th place doesn´t reflect his double punctures during the race! The first hit to the first control, it sealed albeit with little psi left in the tyre. After some controls, it opened again when riding over grass so, he stopped to refill the milk and air. Then it was a hard fight to get back to the leading group and he impressively fought through to take the 6th place just 30 seconds from the leader.
The racing was incredibly close with many head on collisions (Olga and I seemed to be drawn like magents to each other early on with 3 near misses!) on the narrow singletracks. Despite always riding with others, it was an immensely fun mass start race and I look forward to the next!
Our World Cup weekend is now over as we have no relay team, but we will ride the open races tomorrow, only a little slower than today! We have finished our weekend with 2 podium places and a top 6, which really has exceeded our expectations.