A couple of weeks ago we flew out to Venice and drove to Montebelluna to prepare for the European Marathon Championships. I wasn't sure whether or not to go because I was only just able to get back into training following the problems with my knee. Ideally I needed a good block of hard training to try and get some form back. I decided to go, but to use it as another training race and not to taper for it. How could I miss out on a trip to Italy!?
The race was combined with the annual Gunn Rita Marathon and for the women it covered 98.5km (but unscheduled changes increased it to about 120km) and 2290 metres of climbing. We arrived a couple of days before the start so I pre-rode most of the course beforehand. On the first day I rode the classic route which included lots of fun singletrack. I was really glad I'd gone :-) :-) The next day I rode another third of the course which wasn't as much fun! It included more fire road and some long linking sections around the river. Nevertheless, the food was great, the sun was shining, my knee was OK, and I was happy.
The women's race started at 10.30am which meant a relatively leisurely start to the day - unlike the 5am starts that I've been getting used to. The downside of this was the temperature. The previous days had been really hot (30+ degrees) and race day wasn't going to be an exception. During the warm up I was already sweating. Lots.
Warming up (even more) before the start
The start through the town was slow and even on the first climb it wasn't as fast as I had expected. As we approached the first off road section I knew I needed to get to the first singletrack descent with the lead group. A rider in front of me over shot a gravel corner and lost grip causing her stop and unclip. I lost a few seconds and before I knew it I'd lost the front group and lots of other riders entered the descent before me. As we turned back up the next short climb the lead group were out of sight :-(
I rode with a group of 4 girls for a while and when we reached a long flat section I knew we all needed to work hard as a group to try to close the ground to a couple of riders ahead - Nina Gassler (Germany) and Laura Turpijn (Netherlands). Kristine Norgaard (Denmark), Arielle Van Meurs (Netherlands) and I all took it in turns (while a couple of other girls declined) and we were able to close the gap at the bottom of the next climb. We stayed as a group of 6 for the next few hours. It was a lot of fun to be riding with just girls for a change and all but two girls (not named) took their turn at the front.
During the last 30km our group of 6 became a group of two: Laura and I rode alone for the rest of the race. It was really nice to have her for company! As we were approaching the finish I had a déjà vu moment. Exactly the same thing happened in the 2009 EU champs in Estonia. On the long road section to the finish line neither of us wanted to take the lead. Laura sat on my back wheel so I eased off. We must have lost at least a couple of minutes as we gently rolled down the road. As we turned the corner to the finish line I looked over my shoulder to see where she was, the moment she pulled to the side of me I started to put the power down but alas it wasn't enough! She crossed the line a second ahead of me. We finished in 6th and 7th place. Exactly the same positions as last year. Weird! I have a score to settle in 2011 ;0)
|1||Esther Süss (Swi) Wheeler iXS Pro Team||4:53:17|
|2||Gunn Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Nor) Team Multivan Merida||0:01:07|
|3||Pia Sunsdedt (Fin) Rocky Mountain||0:02:07|
|4||Blaza Klemencic (Slo) Felt Otztal X-Bionic||0:06:13|
|5||Jane Nuessli (GBr) Credo-Bikes.com||0:06:58|
|6||Laura Turpijn (Ned)||0:11:15|
|7||Sally Bigham (GBr) Topeak Ergon Racing Team||0:11:16|
|8||Nina Gässler (Ned) Rabo Giant Off-Road Team||0:12:30|
|9||Roberta Gasparini (Ita) Pedali Di Marca Team||0:12:56|
|10||Noergaard Kristine (Den) Rothaus-Cube MTB Team||0:13:32|