20 July 2010 | Race Reports
Pro XCT Finals, Colorado Springs
Once again, a much-delayed race report…
The Pro XCT finals was a UCI stage race which meant it had a slightly different format than the usual XC and short track. There were 3 stages: a time trial, a cross-country and a “cross-country circuit race” (which was kind of like a long short track).
Before the TT, Waldek told me that the overall would be based on cumulative time rather than points- which meant that every second counted. The TT course was tough- the first part was technical and kind of slow, and the second part was wide open but with plenty of off-camber gravelly turns. My first pre-ride lap was ok, but it seemed like every time I rode it I made more and more mistakes. So I stopped pre-riding. When race time came, my strategy was to start conservatively and take my time through the technical stuff and then open it up on the second half of the course. Surprisingly, I felt good and was riding everything way more smoothly than I did in the pre-ride (love it when that happens…). I ended up winning the TT by 45 seconds which gave me a good buffer heading into the XC.
The XC was on the same course as last year. The climb was pretty fast, there were a few technical spots at the top of the course and then more fast gravelly trails on the way down. There weren’t too many places to pass, so my strategy was to get out front early and set the pace. The first lap was tough- I was suffering and my legs were still a little sluggish from the TT. I came through with a 10 second gap and was able to grow the gap a little bit every lap. I knew that Willow and Katie were chasing hard, so I was really excited to win the race. I added some more time to my lead in the overall and had a pretty solid time gap heading into the final stage.
The circuit race course had very little passing- maybe 200 yard of pavement and the rest was on gravelly paths and singletrack. I had a bad start and was 5th heading into the singletrack. Willow had a great start, and she immediately opened up a gap. I managed to close it down on the second lap, but she was riding super strong, and things started to string out with three of us at the front, and a gap back to the chasers. I took a couple pulls, Katie took a few pulls and eventually Willow dropped off. Katie and I rode together for a few laps, but then she dropped off too, so I was by myself for the last few laps. My legs felt great, and as the race went on I was riding the loose gravelly sections better and better.
Winning the circuit race meant that I also won the overall stage race and secured 80 valuable UCI points. (The start order at the World Championships is based on # of UCI points, so every extra point counts). It was a great confidence-builder to be feeling good and riding well just one week before the national championships.