After the MTBO camp in April I had got some more kilometres on the bike before the World Cup in Denmark last weekend. I knew my shape was starting to be ok, but I had no idea what results I could be expecting.
Before the event I believed the sprint would suit me very well, while a long distance mass-start would be hard for me. I really enjoyed the sprint and found a really nice flow. I had full control over everything in the race (I thought) and did no mistakes. After good results in the World Championships last year I had managed to get into the red group this year for the first time in MTBO. This meant I had much stronger opponents around me. So when I caught up the 2 guys starting in front of me at the last controls I suddenly understood that this could be a really good race. I crossed the finish line to a 2nd place, only 2 seconds behind the winner Anton Foliforov. Unfortunately the readout showed me missing the 13th control. The control numbers were quite hard to understand at the map just here and I misread the map and went straight from the 12th control to the 14th. Even though I had passed the 13th on my route to 14, it did not help.
So then my next chance was the mass start. As I said I had not too high hopes for this day, but I wanted at least to follow the leading group for as long as possible and avoid their mistakes. If this succeeded I could still get a good result. This plan worked very well in the beginning and I were in the leading group of 10-15 people that got loose from the rest. Unfortunately I hit a spike on the bridge already to the 1st control. The tire milk did not managed to seal it so for some minutes the milk was flying everywhere. I managed to continue biking while my tire let the air out and finally it sealed. On the way to the 5th control it re-opened and again the milk was flying. I was still in the leading group, but this time there were not much air left in the tire and I had to stop on the way you the 6th control. Quickly I filled it up with a spray that should seal it properly, but neither this worked. Group after group of riders passed me while I sat next to the path. After a short while there was again enough pressure in the tire to continue riding, even though it was not sealed. Again the milk was flying everywhere and I punched as the 45th rider at the 6th control, 2 minutes behind the leaders. I continued quite steady, thinking the race was destroyed, but that it was good training to continue. After a while the tire sealed, but with a very low pressure (10psi measured it after finish). I started feeling better again and the speed slowly increased. Suddenly I was back with some top riders that had done some mistakes or had their own mechanical problems. We rode very well the rest of the course, passing a lot of athletes. I had no idea how far we were behind, but understood we started to get closer to the leaders. I miraculously crossed the finish line as the 6th rider, only 30 seconds behind the winner. A very surprising catch up in a race I though not would suit me at all.
On the sunday it was a Mixed relay, but as the only Norwegian rider at this world cup round I had no team. The organisers were very kind and let all of us “loner’s” start in a open mass-start race with the relay course to get the training. Some other of the top riders had no team in the relay either so it was a strong start field. I had no wish to race maximum, just have fun and get some orienteering practice. As it turned out, I was lucky with some forking and did no mistakes. This put me in the lead at the last controls with 2x reigning world champion Tönis Erm chasing me 100m behind. I decided that he was not going to catch me so I forgot everything about taking it a bit easy. I got some chain problems at the last control, so he passed me just before the sprint, but the race was great fun anyway. And we also ended up beating the best leg time in the relay with 30 seconds…