Swisspower Cup #5 - Champery, Switzerland - June 28, 2008

I returned to Champéry with positive memories. At last year's World Cup, I'd had a great race and was looking forward to revisiting the challenging and fun course. After checking into my quaint hotel room with a view of the Dents du Midi from my balcony, I kitted up for a sunny pre-ride. The Swisspower Cup course was completely different from the World Cup, however, so I got an unexpected taste of some new trails! The 5.2km loop, with its long, technical singletrack selection along the river, followed by a long road climb to the start finish was pretty straightforward, but still had an element of difficulty. The aforementioned singletrack was rough, rooty and rocky, and extremely challenging to maintain momentum on.During my second lap of the course, I already felt faster and more fluid... until I shoulder-checked a tree and heard a loud rrrrrrrip. If I hadn't heard the tearing sound, I would have just kept riding, as I routinely bump trees with my shoulders. But when I stopped, I was shocked to see the sleeve of my jersey ripped wide open, along with a deep-looking cut in my shoulder. I had gotten caught up on a jagged tree knot. Worried about my wound, I quickly rode back up to the start-finish, only to find the first aid tent empty. Tourist Information referred me to the local pharmacy, where the pharmacist kindly cleaned my wound and patched me up. After that excitement, I went back to my hotel room and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

Race day dawned bright and sunny, but luckily the 1040m altitude and mountainous location afforded acool breeze. At 1:30 p.m., the start whistle blew, and I was near the front of the pack for the paved start lap through the village. I started the first lap in fifth place, but moved into fourth on the singletrack, when eventual second-place finisher Maroussia Rusca stalled on a rooty bit. I held my fourth place behind Marielle Saner (who used her home course advantage to its fullest to take the win), Katrin Leumann and Francisca Campos Salas for another lap until Rusca passed me on the climb. It was getting hot out and I didn't want to blow up, so I backed off a little on the third lap, so I could finish strong. My strategy worked out well, as on the final climb of the final lap, I passed Salas for fourth and managed to hang onto the position despite legs that were beginning to cramp. I was only 45s off of third place (Leumann). I was a little bummed to have missed the podium, as one of my goals for the season is to podium at a Swisspower, so I can present the bouquet to one of my favourite fans -- Sonya! It also would have been great to celebrate a podium on my Grandfather's 90th birthday! I had to settle for fourth, however, but what can ya do? Ride faster next time, that's what! I'm still sitting fourth overall, with team mate Fabienne in fifth (she finished eighth in the race). Thanks so much to Fraenzy for feeding, my Dad for showing up (having taken trains, buses, and even hitchhiked to get there) and cheering me on, and the Univega guys for the support and the tent space. Next up: Canadian MTB National Championships in Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec on July 19!

Sandra :)

1. Marielle Saner Guinchard (Sui) 1:30.48
2. Maroussia Rusca (Sui) Scott Allianz Suisse at 0.59
3. Katrin Leumann (Sui) 2.00
4. Sandra Walter (Can) X.0-Felt Women’s MTB Team 2.46
5. Francisca Campos Salas (Chi) Centre Mondial du Cyclisme 3.07
6. Rosara Joseph (NZl) Ghost International 4.21
7. Séverine Hansen (Fra) BH SR Suntour 7.23
8. Fabienne Niederberger (Sui) X.0-Felt Womens MTB Team 8.28
9. Anna Israel (Fra) Conseil Général du 13 10.36
10. Myriam Saugy (Sui) Texner BMC 14.20