Woah, that was a tough one! Yes, yes, I know... ALL races are tough, but World Cup #2 in Offenburg, Germany, was REALLY tough. (As Dirk from SRAM said: "Well, it wasn't like you went for a stroll"). So it's another top-30 in the bag for me, and six places higher than I achieved last year out of an Olympic-driven 120+ women's field. Plus, I moved up one spot (to 24th) in the World Cup ranking. Movin' up is always good....
(L-R) Canadian girls: Emily Batty, Catharine Pendrel and Me! (photo courtesy of Canadian Cyclist)
The 5.1km course is super fun to ride... technical, twisty, rooty, flowy, fast, with four big, steep chutes that almost create that rollercoaster feeling in your stomach on the way down. Yes, it's super fun to ride, but super relentless to race. You just have to be so focused mentally the entire time to make sure you pick the correct line, don't bobble on silly slippery roots (or toads - yes, a toad jumped in my path in the middle of the race, and I swerved surprisedly and yelled "Frog!")....
Going down! (photo courtesy of Canadian Cyclist)
Then, of course, it's physically demanding. You always have to be on the gas, there are no places to recover, it's just full throttle all the way. My lower back was aching massively afterwards. Thank you Anita (my trusty Swiss massage therapist) for the massage yesterday!) Everything went smoothly, however - no mechanicals, no crashes, I rode cleanly, which is always an achievement!
My start was fabulous again. Another top-10 off the two 1.1km start loops, which is always fun! I'm definitely finding my legs early in the race, then slowly sliding back in the second half. My goal for the next couple of World Cups is to be able to start fast, settle in, and then still have some gas left in the tank to really lay it down on the final lap. Easier said than done, but I'll give it my best shot.
Another fast start - see me in the top 10 again? (photo courtesy of Canadian Cyclist)
Thanks so much to Sepp and Sonya for driving all the way up to cheer on the Canadians (and the Swiss). Thanks as well to Benoit for the feed and the French cheers ("Allez Sandra!"), and the crew at SRAM for being so supportive and great as always!
Congrats to Fabienne for a fabulous first World Cup ever. She placed 68th out of a very competitive field - most importantly, she had FUN. Mega-geil! ;-) Kudos also to Marie-Helene for her second place, Kika for being fastest Luna and 8th overall (vollgas!), Nathi for 10th overall and second espoir (you crazy girl!), and Mical for picking off 30 women on her way to 29th spot (thanks for not picking me off too)!
Mical and her new best friend (creeeeepy).
Mical and I stayed in Durbach in a little top-floor suite of a house at the base of a hill, covered in vineyards and topped with a castle (which I rode up to on Thursday, and was treated to a great view of the surrounding hills, vineyards, etc). It was so nice to finally have some warm weather and sunshine after all the cold wind and rain we've been experiencing lately. I love sunshine! I love warmth! The evening after the race, Mical and I had dinner on the patio in downtown Offenburg, followed by some yummy yummy ice cream. Oh yeah!
This Thursday, Mical and I fly to Madrid, Spain to prep for Sunday's World Cup #3 - forecast is calling for 30 degrees. It's gonna be a sizzler!
Elite Women (2 start loops + 6 laps)
1. Irina Kalentieva (Rus) Topeak Ergon Racing Team 2:00:19
2. Marie-Helene Premont (Can) Rocky Mountain at 0:33
3. Chengyuan Ren (Chn) Chinese National Team 1:21
4. Margarita Fullana (Esp) Massi 1:39
5. Ying Liu (Chn) Chinese National Team 1:59
6. Sabine Spitz (Ger) Central Team Ghost Internationalst Pro Team 2:28
7. Lene Byberg (Nor) Specialized Factory Racing 2:33
8. Catherine Pendrel (Can) Luna Womens MTB Teama Womens MTB Team 3:49
9. Elisabeth Osl (Aut) Team Ghost International 4:16
10. Nathalie Schneitter (Sui) Colnago Cap Arreghini 4:37
28. Sandra Walter (Can) X.O.Felt Women's MTB Team 10:11
68. Fabienne Niederberger (Sui) X.O.Felt Women's MTB Team -1 Lap