April 2, 2008
Swisspower Cup #1 - Buchs, SG - March 30, 2008 

Hey sports fans! Welcome to the 2008 MTB season with the XO-Felt Women's Team! That's right, we're back in business. My winter in Canada just flew by, and before I knew it, I was back on a plane over the Atlantic, picking up my fancy new Felt RXC Team (matte black and gold... oooh), kitting up in the familiar (but redesigned) red and white, and sprinting off the line in Buchs. It was a beautiful day for a mountain bike race. The sun came out, and I even refreshed those old tan lines that had started fading after I got back from California in February. The competition was fierce, with current XC World Champion Irina Kalentieva taking the win. Former World Champion and current European Champion Sabine Spitz was also on the scene, along with Marathon World Champion Petra Henzi, and various other former World, World Cup and National Champs. With a 45-woman field, it was like a mini World Cup!

I had set my sights on a top-10 finish, which I pulled off quite nicely last year in nearby Schaan with a similarly strong field. It proved to be more challenging this year, as I was lacking the amazing, virtually invincible legs I had in 2007, plus the course was much more ideal for the pure climber, with a very long bout of ascending in the first half, followed by what seemed like way too little descending for the amount of work. I am not a pure climber, preferring shorter, punchier climbs, but I was motivated -- by birthday cake (made by Daniela). Anyone who knows me (and Daniela's tortes), knows that is enough to motivate me to do almost anything. The kicker was, Sepp and Sonya told me I wasn't allowed to have cake unless I finished in the top 10.
I maintained my position near the front up the first section of the climb, but quickly realized I didn't have the legs to maintain the pace. I kept the leaders in sight for most of the first lap, but eventually I had to resign myself to the fact that I could only go as hard as my jet-lagged legs would let me. For a long time, I dangled around ninth or 10th place, but eventually I fell back into 11th. Oh no! I saw that delectable strawberry mousse torte fading away. I couldn't let it happen! I dug deep, and during the fifth and final lap, my legs started opening up, and they actually responded when I worked them harder. I had Renata Bucher in my sights, as I'd been reeling her in for some time, and caught her halfway up the climb. Then I picked off several lapped riders and saw another racer ahead of me, but there just wasn't enough race left to catch her. I got my top-10 and my torte, which is all that really mattered in the end! :-)
Nadia had a super strong race, finishing 12th. Teamies Fabienne, Kathrin, and Daniela also put in top efforts to finish 14th, 20th, and 38th, respectively. Nice work, ladies!
Thanks to Sile and all the other fantastic fans out there, cheering me on! Thank you also to Michi for the awesome feeding. Stay tuned for another exciting report after Swisspower Cup #2 in Winterthur this weekend.

Sandra :)

Elite Women - 5 laps
1. Irina Kalentieva (Topeak-Ergon) 1:41.09
2. Maroussia Rusca (Scott Allianz Suisse) at 0.20
3. Adelheid Morath (Rothaus-Cube MTB Team) 1.00
4. Petra Henzi (Fischer-BMC) 1.23
5. Sabine Spitz (central GHOST Pro Team) 2.02
6. Nina Göhl-Wrobel (Multivan Merida Biking) 2.24
7. Katrin Leumann (goldwurst-power / Sputnik) 3.31
8. Marielle Saner (Bikepark.ch / BMC) 4.39
9. Nathalie Schneitter (Colnago) 6.09
10. Sandra Walter (X.0-Felt Womens MTB Team) 6.34

12. Nadia Walker (X.0-Felt Womens MTB Team) 8.37
14. Fabienne Niederberger (X.0-Felt Womens MTB Team) 11.25
20. Kathrin Heimberg (X.0-Felt Womens MTB Team) 13.57
38. Daniela Stünzi (X.0-Felt Womens MTB)