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Race Report: 2007 World XC Marathon Viviers - Belgium

I am currently staying in Belgium with the SA MTB XC Olympic Squad, our mission to try and accumulate some precious UCI points.

We arrived in Oudenaarde, our home base for the next month last week Wednesday and spent the week training in the beautiful countryside and preparing for the World XC MTB Marathon in Viviers which we raced on Sunday.

The course was incredibly tough with just under 3000m of climbing and a route that was either straight up or straight down (56 climbs in total). It was also very technical and muddy more like a 105km XC course what more could a MTBiker ask for! The scenery, that which I saw was amazing, we rode through forests, along and over rivers and through plenty of mud.

A Dirty Girl Who Loves Her Bike

The start wasn’t as fast as I expected, everyone pacing themselves for the long race ahead. Amy, Tania and I were riding together at the start through the 1st technical single track section. Going down a very rooty downhill my chain came off and I eventually had to stop when I couldn’t get it to pop back on. Climbing back on my bike I had a sinking feeling as my gears were jumping and looking at my chain saw that I had twisted a link! I continued on very carefully so as not to snap my chain and prayed that the first tech zone was not too far away. Fortunately I did not have to go too far and seeing the blue Shimano tent (A true sight for sore eyes) I quickly pulled off and asked for some help. I was extremely grateful to the Shimano mechanic who got me on my way again 5 min later with a new chain.

I then set out at a hard pace trying to catch up all the precious places I had lost. I eventually managed to catch up to more or less the position I started in, passed Amy and caught up to Tania on a climb leading into a technical section. I tried to keep a consistent pace but with about 45km to go I was starting to feel the distance and slowed my pace down a bit conserving some energy so that I’d make it to the finish. The km’s seemed to tick by very slowly and I couldn’t wait for the last 20km’s, I had spoken to Karl Platt the day before and he had told me they were easy (Fortunately he was right). I managed to keep a steady pace on the last few longer climbs and could see a British lady ahead of me. I caught her before the last water point but had to stop and refill and she gained some ground on me. Knowing there was only another 15km left I picked up my pace, caught her on a climb and gave the last few km’s all I had left. The finish line was a really welcome sight; I crossed it in 17th place in 6 hours and 4 minutes very happy to finish in the top 20.

Next weekend we will race in the MTB XC Bundesliga finals in Bad Salzdetfurth – Germany

Cheers till then

Yolande

Results: Pro Women

1 Petra Henzi (Switzerland) 5.12.11
2 Sabine Spitz (Germany) 2.07
3 Pia Sundstedt (Finland) 11.59
17 Yolanda Speedy (South Africa) 52.07
26 Tania Raats (South Africa) 1.07.18
31 Amy-Jane Mundy (South Africa) 1.36.14

Race Report – MTB XC Bundesliga – Bad Salzdetfurth, Germany

We travelled to Bad Salzdetfurth in Germany for the Bundesliga XC race on Saturday. The trip there took us 4 hours longer than our GPS had estimated partly resulting from a nightmare traffic jam. We went straight to the race course to register and then headed off to our hotel in Mulhuim a village 15km from the race venue. I went for a ride to loosen my legs after the long trip and then dived into bed as it was late and I was pretty tired!

We only started racing at 11 so went to the course early to get in a practice lap. The course was short being less than 5km with a long broken 2km climb, technical decent and a tar downhill section through the village to the finish. They also threw in a few jumps and a steep drop down some stairs.

The race start was fast, the world’s top riders including the current World Cup leader Irina Kalentyeva setting the pace in front. Amy, Tania and I hung in with them up the first climbs but they soon got a gap on us. The first 3 laps were pretty tough, I pushed really hard on the climbs trying to get a good position and took it relatively carefully on the downhills so as not to make a stupid mistake and land up face planting a tree! I started to feel stronger on the 4th lap and could keep my lap times fairly consistent catching a number of ladies in my last 2 laps. I crossed the finish line not at all sure of my position (I only found out later that I had finished in 7th, a result I was very happy with), pretty tired and having had great fun on an awesome course. This was also my first race riding with my SRM so I was really keen to download and take a squizz at my race file.

It was then back into the car for a long trip back to our home in Belgium

Cheers till next week…

Results: Elite ladies

1. Irina Kalentyeva (Ergon-Topeak) 1:28.28

2. Elisabeth Osl (Kirchberg) 1:28.54

3. Maria Osl (Kirchberg) 1:31.34

4. Bernardine Boog-Rauwerda (Giant) 1:33.23

5. Nina Göhl (Multivan Merida Biking) 1:34.26

6. Sarah Koba (KOBA Biketeam) 1:36.03

7. Yolande Speedy (IMC/Mongoose) 1:37.11

10. Amy-Jane Mundy (Jeep/Specialised) 1:39.47

12. Tania Raats (Jeep/Specialised) 1:40.19

14. Sara Muhl (Jeep/Specialised) 1:42.47

Race report: Flanders Cup, Belgium

This weekend we raced the Flanders XC Cup in Langdorp Belgium,

The course was just over 5km, very fast, not very technical and had short steep climbs and drops.

The ladies raced 5 laps and a start loop.

There were close to 30 ladies on the start line and we set off at a blistering pace up the first climb.

Amy, Tania, Sara and I started at the back of the bunch, halfway up the climb I was in mid field and managed to get into the first single track in 4th place. I fought hard on the climbs passing the 3rd and 2nd lady making it into 2nd position before the start of the 1st full lap. Going into the 2nd lap I knew that the leading lady was only 35 sec ahead of me. I picked up my pace hoping I’d be able to maintain it and could see her ahead of me on the last steep climb. I caught up to her going into a flat single track section following the railway line and passed her on the last tar section taking the lead for the 2nd lap. She sat on my wheel but I was able to keep a higher pace on the 1st climb and created a decent gap. It was an awesome feeling to be leading in a European race but I knew I still had 4 laps to go, the rest of the field hot on my heels and that anything could happen. I kept on going at a steady pace and could hardly believe it when I crossed the finish line in 1st place!

I t was sad to leave Hof De Kammen, our home away from home in Belgium! We travelled by train to Zoetermeer in Holland to race in the Benelleux Cup on Thursday.

The course was again very short, 4.5km laps. Although not very technical it was very demanding with short steep climbs and drops one after another. The down hills were pretty rutted with lots of braking bumps which made it important to keep focused throughout the race.

There were 37 ladies on the start line, don’t ask me how but Tania, Sara, Amy and I cracked a spot in the front row which was an awesome advantage as there was no start loop and we headed straight into a steep technical climb. The start wasn’t too hectic and I was able to keep in the front bunch for the beginning of the first lap. I went out very hard for the 1st 2 laps and moved up from 6th to 4th position going into my 3rd lap. The course was pretty relentless and I found it very hard to recover, never really feeling comfortable on the course and just hoping I could keep my position as the 5th lady was hot on my heels. In my 5th lap I went round a sandy corner a wee bit too fast and lost my front wheel. I didn’t crash very hard but my chain came off and it took me a while to get going again and cost me my 4th position. I chased back catching and passing her on one of the climbs, fortunately I was able to regain my gap on her and maintained my 4th position to the end. I was very grateful when I finally crossed the finish line 7 laps later about 5 and a half minutes behind the leader.

We are now on our way to Scotland for World Champs this weekend, cheers till then….