April 2, 2008
Swisspower Cup #3 - Muttenz, BL - April 13, 2008 

All right! Things are getting better and better every time the start pistol fires. I'm quite pleased with my 5th place result at last weekend's C1 event, as I prepare for World Cup #1 in Belgium this Sunday.

The Elite Women's podium - doing the wave! (courtesy of radsportphoto.de)

This time around, we were back in Muttenz, the location of the Swisspower Cup Finals last September. We battled on a very flat 6km course that started with two loops - roadie-style - on a horse track in St. Jakob Stadium. During this time, the pack stayed tight and there was lots of jostling and jockeying as all the riders tried to stay in a good position near the front. I definitely had my elbows out as I tried to defend my place in the pack. At one point someone on my right fully pushed me - like leaned on me - and forced me into the rider on my left, so I was leaning on her and our bikes made contact (it totally reminded me of the chariot racing scene in the movie Ben Hur). Anyway, something on her bike made contact with my wheel, and snapped one of my spokes - ping! (Remember now, Ben Hur, the chariots, and the bad guy had these crazy spikes on his hubs that ripped the other guy's chariot apart?)

Navigating one of the many man-made obstacles on the Muttenz course. (courtesy of radsportphoto.de)

With just one spoke broken of my robust DT Swiss wheel, I headed out into the woods near the front of the pack for a short, slick climb and descent, followed by some swooping singletrack along the river Birs. Once back in the infield, we faced a series of technical manmade obstacles, like whoop-dee-do’s bridges, logs, ramps and a gap jump. Spectators were out in force, cheering, including Sile, Sepp and Sonya - thanks so much! Thanks also to Nathalie's parents for their boisterous support, despite the fact that Nathalie and I were riding together and back and forth for a good portion of the race. Many thanks as usual to Ruedi, Michi, Camilla and Daniela for their organization and help. You guys rock! :-)

I'm pleased with my power on the flats and I also felt strong on the climb. I had a good time out there and had exciting battles with other riders, which is always motivating and makes things interesting. On the final climb of the final lap, I had to stop because of chain suck and I saw Renata bearing down on me. That REALLY motivated me to get going, and I managed to hold her off - but it was close!

Nice job, Fabienne. She was in ninth place until she flatted on the final lap. She still cracked the top 10, however, losing only one spot because of the mechanical. Yay team! Nadia added some drama to the day w

hen she passed out right before the start. She's okay though. According to the doctor, her blood pressure dropped too suddenly after she stopped warming up and got off her bike....

The Swisspower Cup Series now takes a break, while the World Cup Series has three events in a row for the next three weeks. The next Swisspower Cup is in Gränichen on May 25. Stay tuned for my next report on Houffalize!

Elite Women / 7 laps / 42 km

1. Katrin Leumann (Sui) Goldwurst-power 1:49:13
2. Esther Süss (Sui) Wheeler Pro Team at 0:24
3. Marielle Saner-Guinchard (Sui) Bikepark.ch 0:54
4. Nathalie Schneitter (Sui) Colnago 4:13
5. Sandra Walter (Can) X.O-Felt Women’s MTB Team 4:41
6. Renata Bucher (Sui) Stöckli-Craft 4:59
7. Bettina Schmid (Sui) Fischer-BMC 5:35
8. Kathrin Stirnemann (Sui) Merida Suisse Team 6:57
9. Kate Potter (Aus) Cotic Bontrager Race Team 8:34
10. Niederberger Fabienne (Sui) X.O-Felt Women’s MTB Team 10:02

24. Daniela Stünzi (Sui) X.O-Felt Women’s MTB Team -2 laps