We arrived in the little town of Jungingen, about 10km away from the race venue in Albstadt, on Tuesday evening. The team headed out for a quick spin down to the venue and back to check out what we were dealing with. All it served to do was whet my appetite for the following day's laps!
Wednesday was the day for course reconn: it appeared to be in mint condition, maybe a little slick but fast and fun. The climbing was steep, the descending was steep... you get the picture. A few technical features added some excitement and kept me from being too bitter about the climbs. The rain started on Thursday and quickly turned the course into a slip'n'slide (still a ton of fun) and continued on through Friday. Kenda Karmas were the perfect tire choice for the conditions... even when I had the bike completely sideways, they pulled me back upright.
Friday night saw the Canadian National team entering their first ever eliminator race! Qualifying rounds took place in the early evening, followed by some intense heats on the 800m course. ALN and Raph came out as the top Canadians, with Raph managing a 4th place and a podium spot. Well done guys!
Miraculously, the course dried up almost entirely for the start of the U23 women's race at 1:00pm on Saturday afternoon. The race was short - only 4 laps and no start loop (yes, it WAS bizarre) - and the start was fast. As predicted, it bottlenecked about 500m into the lap, and the majority of the field was off their bikes and running the steep single track hill. I was pretty aggressive off the start, but I was a little nervous when girls started kicking my wheels and stepping on my heels (points for rhyming?). Those girls can get INTENSE.
The first lap was mostly spent trying to get clear of traffic, and I was able to do that relatively well. Things opened up in front of me on the second lap and I was able to gain some time on the descents (which were the only sections of the course that remained muddy). The race went by really quickly, and I just focused on picking off one girl at a time. I went down twice and have some pretty mean bruises as evidence... but for the most part, I managed to keep it upright! I am really happy with how my race went, finishing 16th in U23 - my best race on European soil to date!
Cayley and ALN killed it as well, finishing 20th and 24th respectively. Proud to wear the same colours as those girls. Mitch, Leandre and Jeremy had solid days as well, finishing 36th, 45th, and 49th. Excellent day for Team Canada! Full results can be found at Canadian Cyclist. Big thanks to the staff with Cycling Canada for having our bikes and bodies so finely tuned for the race today. It really couldn't have been done without you guys! Also a huge thanks to Norco, Shimano, Kenda and Rockshox for having my bike pimped out for the race.
Next up on the agenda are the Elite races tomorrow, before we pack up and head on out to the Czech Republic for round 2! Here are some pictures of the journey to date:
|Canadian headquarters for the week|
|Is it odd that I really want this tractor?|
|Cayley Brooks and I repping our homeland.|
|Happy morning... happy eggs? Courtesy of the hotel manager. Again, the people here are so friendly!|
|My bike after preriding on Friday afternoon. It was a little soupy, to say the least. Huge props to the mechanics for having us race ready within minutes for the eliminator!|
|Jeremy crushin it in the U23 men's race.|
|Leandre not even losing any time as he runs and fixes his chain at the same time. Definition of calm, cool, and collected.|
|Mitch powering up one of the many uphills. Great work boys!|