Sunday, 18 December 2016

Vintercuppen #3 - Third place

Result: 3rd place

Bike: BMC Teamelite XX1 Fast Trak 2.2 / Fast Trak 2.2 1.35 bar (training wheels)

The third  race in Vintercuppen took us to the Helsingör area in Denmark. Temperature was around 5-6 degrees above freezing. Almost summer-time, compared to the last couple of races. I actually saw Palle wearing short sleeves and short-legged bibs at the starting line! The track was fun and technical. Plenty of muddy parts to test your balance. Also a few places with alternative lines which were fun to explore.

I had had quite a hard week training and when I rode the test lap, ahead of the race, I felt sort of worn and not all that charged. When I lined up for the start and I did so at the front, but then as more people joined I suddenly had many riders ahead of me. As I was feeling a bit off I didn't make an effort to move further up in the grid before the start.

Then as the race started some guys just ahead of me got tangled so we were all waiting for them to get going. But while this was happening a lot of riders were passing us on the right. So when I finally got going I think I was perhaps around 40th place. This also led to a long queue as gravel road turned into the first single track section. However, I had my helm cam on and I thought it'd be fun to have video of myself moving up the field. This put me in a good mood.

I passed a bunch of people during the first lap. Checking the lap times later on (see the table below) it seems I was up to 18th place overall after the first lap, 5th in my class.

After the first lap a group had begun to form and I was at the head of it. Looking behind it seemed like I almost had 10 riders trailing me closely. However slowly they started dropping off and the group got smaller but also grew at times as we caught up with someone who had been ahead of us.

Going out on the last lap there were now three of us left in the group. The other two riders were riding hard and very skillful in the technical sections so I mostly let them lead.

The last part of the lap was two very tricky and slippery uphill sections, followed by steep downhills and then some 200m of gravel road going slightly uphill to the finish line. I started planning a strategy for the end of the race as we approached the second half of the last lap: I knew that if I was in the lead going up into the first of the two climbs, then it would probably be hard for anyone to pass me before the finish line. So I let the two other guys lead on the short gravel road sections going up to the climb, and just before the climb I sprinted ahead and started the uphill first. While this was all happening I noticed that I was catching up really quickly to what seemed like a very tired Henrik Ahlbäck. At the top of the second climb I was on Henriks wheel and I could not hear either of the two other riders behind me. I tried to stay as close as I could to Henrik in the last steep downnhill and then sprinted the last 200m as soon as we hit the dirt road. The plan worked and I finished ahead of the other riders in the group.

Third place in the M40 category. I was very pleased. Also, having a look at the laptimes (see below) the last lap was actually my fastest one!



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