21 April 2008 | Race Reports
World Cup #1- Houffalize
Let me apologize in advance for any typos- the computer I am using here in Bastogne, Belgium has a “AZERTY” keyboard, not a “QWERTY” one. Should be interesting…
We arrived in Frankfurt, Germany on Thursday and drove from there down to Houffalize. This year, instead of staying at a hotel we rented a house in the nearby village of Bertogne. My mom and Bo are here too- they decided to come over to see the first 2 world cups and it has been really fun having them around.
On Friday we got out on the course and it was in great shape- nice and tacky and very fast. I was feeling confident on the course and was really looking forward to the race.
And then it started raining.
On Saturday the course had turned slick and slimy, and I didn’t even bother riding most of it because I knew it would change a lot after the amateurs raced (and I was pretty terrified of some of the downhills…that too). Instead, I did my openers on the road and tried to not worry about how trecherous the steep descents were becoming with all the rain. It was supposed to clear up and be sunny and warm on race day, but it wasn’t looking good. I had to make my tire selection on Saturday night (we have only 2 spare sets of wheels and 3 riders) and I decided to go with mud tires front and back. Even if they were going to be a little slower on the climbs and pavement, I knew I could use the extra confidence on the downhills.
The race starts in the middle of town and the start loop climbs up a very steet paved road for several minutes. I had a good start, but by the top of the road about 20 women had blown by me. I wasn’t too worried because I knew it was going to be a long race and there are a lot of passing opportunities on the course. I had to run a few of the first downhills (people were all over the place), but I was able to start moving up fairly quickly after the start loop. At the end of the 2nd lap (we did 4.5 laps) I had caught up to 2nd, 3rd and 4th but I made a few silly mistakes and ended up losing contact. I finally moved up to 4th and was riding steadily when Ren Chengyuan caught and passed me at the beginning of the last lap. (She went on to catch the leaders 1 min in front of me and put 30 secs into them to win the race.)
I went on to finish 5th — my best result in a European World Cup. Unfortunately, the podium at World Cup races is only 3 this year (not 5 as in years past), but that’s allright — I’ll just have to pedal a little faster! I am very excited about the result and about my fitness right now. I am definitely looking forward to the next couple of races.