Friday, 19 June 2015

Road trip

Four weeks ago we set off on a long road trip, starting off in the Mercantour National Park in the French Alps. Over 2 weeks we had great training on very quiet roads with marmot, deer and cows (and their bells) as company. The climbs were awesome preparation for the upcoming World Championships and the sunshine was great for mind and body too, especially after the cold, wet and windy weather throughout spring in the UK!

Next stop: Alpen Tour Trophy, a 4 day stage race hosted in Schladming, Austria. We set off on the 11 hour drive at 3am, travelling across Italy and up to Austria - *uff* what a journey! Having raced Alpen Tour two times before I kind of knew what lay ahead, but I'd forgotten - fortunately - how long and steep the climbs are! After hard training in France I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from the race in terms of performance; starting a hard stage race fatigued is a bit tough! As a UCI category S1 race many XCO riders were attracted by the prospect of earning points for Olympic qualification. It was set to be a competitive and exciting race.

Thanks Jan Reiner for the photo!
Over 4 days the race took riders on 4 different loops, all starting from Planai in the town centre. What the race lacked in distance - just 200km - it more than made up for with the sheer amount of steep climbing: tallying nearly 9000m. The race was set to provide great training and preparation for the World Champs in Val Gardena, Italian Dolomites on 27th July where the winner will have to stomp around 60kms and up 3400m of climbing.

The Alpen Tour couldn't have been more perfect: 3 out of 4 stage wins, the overall GC and the Queen of the Mountain Prize which saw me win a traditional "dirndl" (a Styrian dress). Now I look more authentic when I pretend to be a mountain girl - a childhood dream!

More appropriate foot wear required to complete the look ;) Thanks Regina Stanger for the photo
Now we're in Selva val Gardena putting the final pieces of the jigsaw in place for the big race in just over one week!