Tuesday, 14 June 2011

European Marathon Championships Race Report

I spent the week leading up to the European Marathon Championships resting after the Trans Germany. I went for easy rides on the course together with Nina Gassler (Hard Rocx Racing) which was really good fun. It was so nice to spend time riding easy, relaxing with Dave, eating nice food and generally not doing very much at all.

During the week the weather was nice and the course was dry; however rain was forecast for the race so I decided to change tyres and use Conti 2.2 X Kings front and back. This was the right choice because sure enough we woke up to rain on race day. My plan was to get a good start and enter the early single track sections at the front of the bunch – this was especially important because of the muddy, slippery conditions. On one of the first off-camber corners a rider slipped off in front of me, but fortunately I managed to take the high-line and ride around her.

Everything was going fine until I missed one of the course signs and went the wrong way! Pia, Milena Landtwing and Jane Nussli were then able to enter the next single trail descent ahead of me. I cursed my stupidity and chased back to them. On the first climb at approximately 10km, Pia and I were able to build a 40 second lead over Milena and Jane. I rode together with Pia until the third feedzone when I was no longer able to go with her attacks. She was super strong and literally seemed to float up the steep climbs!

I thoroughly enjoyed the forest single trail descents from the top of the Ameisberg - the highest point on the course. At the fifth feedzone with 30km to go I was 2 minutes behind Pia and 6 ½ minutes ahead of third position. My legs were feeling heavy and tired and I started to wonder why – could I be tired still from the Trans Germany or were they tired because I was working so hard??? I decided to keep a steady pace and not push too hard because there were still some really steep climbs to go. Perhaps this was a bad decision because I lost another 2 minutes to Pia between the fifth and the final feedzone. I dug a little deeper in the last 12km on the climbs and the flats, but I descended the remaining single trails cautiously because I didn’t want to make any silly mistakes at this point! As I turned the final corner I allowed myself to realise that I’d done it: I’d finished in 2nd place. Wooohoooo!!!! Pia totally deserved to win; she was really strong and rode a very smart race.

1. SUNSTEDT Pia (FIN) National Team Finland 4:04:11.3
2. BIGHAM Sally (GBR) Topeak Ergon Racing Team 4:08:46.5
4. NUSSLI Jane (GBR) Fischer BMC 4:19:14.1
5. LANDTWING Milena (SUI) Team Centurion/Vaude 4:20:21.3

Full results can be found here.

Next stop: World Marathon Championships in Montebelluna, Italy (26th June)

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