A course made treacherous by wet weather was the big story at the second round of the UCI World Cup, held in Albstadt, Germany.
Frazer, Mariske, Martin and Raph all put in strong performances, continuing their upward trajectory of form, and Schwalbe’s Rocket Ron put in an awesome shift in the mud!
As one of the top 40 Elite Women riders in the World, Mariske was part of World Cup history on Friday night, racing the inaugural Short Track race. Twenty-five minutes of racing over a 1.2km course was fast and tactical, and it decided the top two rows of the grid for Sunday’s XCO race. Getting caught behind a coming-together off the start didn’t help Mariske’s cause, but she fought back onto the train that chased down the lead group. Mariske came away with 33rd place, 10 World Cup points and a great experience!
Onto Saturday and it was Frazer who lined up to take on the World’s best U23 Men. And the rain! A fast start saw Frazer up into 5th place on the start loop. After the race, Frazer explained that adrenaline had masked the fact he was going too deep in the early stages, and that from lap two onwards he really suffered as a consequence. After slipping backwards he managed to settle in and consolidate whilst many of those around him were ‘blowing up’ completely and crashing badly. A 15th place finish is a really strong performance. Frazer is a little disappointed with the result, but also confident in his form and ready to learn, progress and go again next weekend in Nove Mesto na Morave.
Rain overnight meant no improvement in course conditions come Mariske’s race on Sunday. As she pointed out after the race, you don’t get mud in Cape Town, so the slippery conditions were particularly testing! It was a battle to stay upright, let alone race, but Mariske soldiered on to finish in a very respectable 46th position, with a few tumbles along the way. It was a tough mental game, as well as physically demanding, but Mariske is still smiling and full of positive energy for next weekend.
The mud was drying and there was even a hint of sunshine as the Elite Men lined up to race. Martin and Raph seemed determined to extend their Cape Epic partnership: they started with numbers 80 and 78 respectively, and were no more than a few places apart for the first laps. However, Lady Luck decided to split the two of them and issued Raph with a puncture. As he dropped back and made a stop in the pits, Martin started to really make progress through the field. His race plan was not to start too fast and then begin to make his way forward. It was working perfectly. Just as he was knocking on the door of the top thirty, he also punctured. Mark made a seamless wheel change in the pits and Martin was able to get back into the race in around 45th position. There were a lot of punctures in the race today, and sadly we were not exempt. With great professionalism, Raph and Martin kept calm and regained their rhythm, but it is a shame to have lost the chance for even better results. Martin finished 44th and Raph was 57th. Given their start numbers, they still produced brilliant rides, but we are all looking forward to another chance to race next weekend and chase a finish place deserving of their form.
Time to wash the mud from everything, pack up and head to the Czech Republic for another World Cup week.