Swisspower Cup #4 – Gränichen, AG – May 25, 2008

1. Sabine Spitz (Ger) Ghost 1:27.50
2. Katrin Leumann (Sui) Goldwurst 1:28.08
3. Maroussia Rusca (Sui) Scott Allianz Suisse 1:29.08
4. Esther Süss (Sui) Wheeler Pro Team 1.49
5. Marielle Saner-Guinchard (Sui) Bikepark.ch 2.07

6. Sandra Walter (Can) X.O-Felt Women’s MTB Team 3.40
7. Fabienne Niederberger (Sui) X.O-Felt Women’s MTB Team 6.55
18. Daniela Stünzi (Sui) X.O.-Felt Women’s MTB Team

The modified course in Gränichen was a lot of fun with a new singletrack switchback climb on the backside, followed by a fast, technical descent. The last time I rode here was for the Swisspower Cup in 2006, as I wasn’t allowed to compete last year, since it was the Swiss National Championships, and I have a Canadian license. ;-)

My legs felt strong, but I didn’t have the best start, as I let myself get squeezed out in the first corner and I had to fight my way back up for position. I got on Sabine Spitz’s wheel, knowing that she was a solid person to ride behind. She often starts conservatively, but always manages to work her way to the front of the field at the end when it really counts. I want to learn how to do that, and who better to learn it from than a former World Champion? I followed Spitz for most of the first lap until I got impatient and passed her at the end of the final climb and led her into the descent. When I pre-rode the previous day, the course had been dry, so I was confident I could rail this section without difficulty. However, rain overnight made things slightly slick, and a root I had disregarded on Saturday totally took me out on that first lap. I bailed, Spitz got around me, and she was gone. For a long time, I saw Spitz riding ahead of me, until she gunned it and moved into the lead and took the win. I rode constantly in sixth place, alone for most of the race, trying chase down my competitors, who were just out of reach.

I rode across the finish line in sixth place, happy with how my legs felt after just coming off of a nine-day altitude training camp in Livigno, Italy. The air felt thick with oxygen and my legs felt strong (I was climbing the first paved ascent in the big ring!) after riding all those high mountain passes. I was just lacking some speed, which a few intense tune-up workouts should take care of before I head to Andorra for the next World Cup on May 31.

I continue to hold my fourth-place ranking in the Swisspower Cup Series, which I hope to better at the next Swisspower Cup in Champery, VS on June 28 (my grandfather’s 90th birthday, which will hopefully mean extra good luck)!

Fabienne had a fabulous race, finishing close behind me in seventh place. She is now fifth overall in the series. Daniela also had a good ride, finishing 18th.