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Race Report SRAM Liga #2 Neastved

 Last weekend it was time for the second SRAM Liga race of the season. I had

heard many good things about the course in Neastved: that it was very

technical, that it had many climbs, and that it would probably suit me. Hence,

I was looking forward to the race. A two week work trip, which meant no

training, from which I returned right before the race had me a bit worried

about my shape though.

 

We arrived on Friday evening so we could check out the course. A few hundred

meters in we already arrived at the first gap jump. Luckily it was easier than

it looked. Another few hundred meters in the course was the second gap jump,

omniously named "collarbone jump". It took me some effort to muster up the

courage to do the jump, and my not-entirely-graceful landing did not

particularly inspire great confidence. Most of the others had already moved on

to the next technical feature, a large rock-garden, so there was not much time

to worry about it more. Finally something that I really liked though; the rock

garden went well from the first run on, so that provided a welcome boost on my

morale. The remainder of the course was less extreme, but still great fun to

ride. We did a quick second lap on which, fortunately, the jumps went much

better.

 

Saturday race day!

 With numberplate 305 I was allowed to start on the first row of the Men B

field. One minute to the start, so I quickly checked my pockets to make sure

that I could reach my CO2 canister and gel. Crap, no gel. It turned out I had

put it in my jacket instead of my race jersey. Anyway, 30 seconds to go, so I

had to focus. I had a very good start, and headed into the first turn on second

place. On the long grass straight I was overtaken by a few riders, but I went

into the forest riding comfortably on a 7th position or so. Right on the rear

wheel of co-AarhusMTB rider Mathieu. When we approached the collarbone jump, he

opted for the B-line, and I could move up a spot. When we reached the

rockgarden, the two riders in front of me headed for the B-line as well. Flying

over the rocks I moved up another two spots, one of which I had to yield again

a bit later. On the third long climb of the course, a wide, loose, and steep

gravel climb, I could rejoin the pack of the four leaders, and continued in

that group. By the time we reached the start/finish area the two leaders had

broken a way, so when I moved to the front of our little group heading into the

forest I was in the third position. Before I knew it we once again reached the

decent with the collarbone jump, and I had caught up with the second place

rider. We approached the jump together at a speed that was way too slow to my

liking. I barely made the jump; or that was at least how it felt. So, I was

very happy when he headed for the B-line at the rockgarden. Once again I

barreled down the rocks, and immediately opened up a gap.

Throughout the next lap the positions and gaps between the first three riders

stayed about the same: I was roughly 15 to 20 seconds behind on the leader, and

had about the same gap to the rider on the third position. Near the end of the

third lap, I started to drift off a bit, and had to remind myself that there

was still a full lap to go. This was about the time where my missing gel would

have come in handy. After clearing the jumps and rock garden for the last time,

I was still pretty confident about my lead on the third position. However, the

long gravel climb did not go as fast any more as on the first laps, and I

noticed I was losing time. Still, just one long climb (and some smaller ones)

to go. Just before that climb I was caught by the rider behind me, and when we

reached the top I had lost my second place. I pushed as hard as I could to stay

with him, and kept doing so right up to reaching the finish

line. Unfortunately, I could not catch up again, and crossed the line in third,

about ten seconds back to the second place. Despite losing "my" second place at

the very end of the race, I was very happy about my race, and glad to finish on

the podium. For the next time, I just have to remember to put my gel in the

right pocket (and see if I can get the speaker to pronounce my last name

correctly ;)).

 

Other riders and categories

 Mathieu finished his race on the 7th position. In the Masters 40 category,

Thomas had a good start, but had to abandon the race due to a broken

saddle. Niels finished in 18th position. No less than four AarhusMTB riders in

the Men C category, of which Nicolai was the fastest, finishing on the 10th

place. He was shortly followed by Mick in 12th, and Nikolaj in 19th. It was not

Mateusz's lucky day; he had a small crash and crossed the line in

24th. AarhusMTB's Elite Men/Men A were equally unlucky: Kasper was set back by

a series of mechanical issues, and finished in 27th. Oliver had to deal with a

loose handlebar, and quit the race after three laps. Most unlucky of all was

Asger, who crashed in the rockgarden during practice. In his fall he hurt his

wrist, and was unable to start on Saturday. Finally --closing with more

positive results-- Charlotte crossed the line in fifth place in the Women B

category. A race in which Josefine finished 3rd, as was also allowed to step up

onto the podium!

Once again thanks to everyone for a great trip! I hope to see everyone again

next time!

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