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7th AOK MTB Cup Solingen, Germany and Pre World MTB XC Fort William, Scotland

Hi Everyone

I am currently travelling and racing with Ivonne Kraft a top International MTB rider lying 17th in the World in XC racing. I met her at the Cape Epic and she kindly offered for me to join her in her training and racing adventures across Europe.

My first race was in Solingen in Germany a short course race in which we completed 6 laps of 4.2km’s. The course although not very technical was quite challenging due to muddy rainy conditions, something I am quickly getting used to over here! Ivonne fortunately loaned me some descent mud tires and helped me in the preceding days with my technical skills, this saved me from lying in a heap at the bottom of a particularly muddy downhill! It was a fun race and helped me to loosen up my tired travelling legs. I was very happy to finish 3rd and also won some decent prize money, this was very welcome as staying in small villages I had not been able to draw any money or use my credit card!

Results, Elite ladies:

1. Ivonne Kraft (La Carrera BTS Travel) 1:32:14

2. Sandra Gockert (Stevens Racing) 1:35:15

3. Yolande Speedy (IMC/Mongoose)1:37:02

After the race we travelled home (a small German village called Hausheim where Ivonne lives with her friend Walter) to prepare for our trip to Scotland to race the pre-World champs in Fort William. We met up with Ivonne’s friend and pro MTB racer Michael Weiss on the Tuesday, packed our bikes and headed off to the airport.

Scotland is a beautiful country with endless green hills, mountains, lochs and historical buildings.

We spent an amazing week there; sight-seeing, training and practicing the XC course in Fort William

The 7.4km course is fairly technical with slalom like downhills, 270m of steep climbing and a few rocky drops. It starts with a long climb that is broken up a little and then it’s mainly downhill till a long drag and short steep climb to the finish. It poured with rain the day before (the most rain Scotland has seen in a long time!) so the course although well prepared for rain was quite slippery in places.

I raced against 14 other ladies mainly British riders and a few top International riders. We had a very late race start only starting at 2pm, I felt like sleeping not racing so it was hard to get in the right frame of mind!

The start wasn’t too fast and I kept with 2 of the top ladies until about halfway up the 1st climb they then created a gap on me which they increased on the downhill. There was another lady chasing me but I managed to pull away from her before the end of the 1st lap keeping my 5th position until I passed Teresa Hurikova (Junior World Champ in 2003) who flatted on the 3rd lap and finished the race in 4th about 10 mins behind the winner, Ivonne which I was very happy with.

Results, Elite ladies:

1. Ivonne Kraft (La Carrera BTS Travel) 1:46:02

2. Amy Hunt (Trek VW) 1:49:23

3. Fiona McDermid (Token Products) 1:53:37

4. Yolande Speedy (IMC/Mongoose) 1:55:19

I am now back in Germany for the World cup in Offenburg this weekend. The course is awesome, very technical with short to medium steep climbs and very steep drops some of them very rooty so I hope it doesn’t rain! I’ll let you know how it goes….

World Cup #2 Offenburg

The 2nd World cup was held in Offenburg, Germany on the 27th May. The course was one of the most technically challenging and fun I have ever ridden with very steep, sometimes rooty drops and climbs, a tight slalom downhill and on the day lots and lots of mud!

After a few really hot humid days we woke up the morning before the race to rain threatening overcast skies and cool weather.

I started the race ranked 52nd in the middle of a 102 strong field of ladies. We began the race with 2 hectic 1.1 km start loops comprising

of a tough bumpy grass uphill, short decent and really steep climb. The start was very fast and congested with everyone fighting for position before the start of the 6 technical course laps.

I entered the 1st lap mid field and fought hard on the short steep power climbs to try and keep my position. On the 1st really steep drop (a very rough, rooty almost vertical 2 meter drop) the rider ahead of me hesitated and got off to run it, with no other choice I did the same and was almost taken out by the next rider who rode down before I reached the bottom knocking me off balance! With a grazed knee I quickly hopped back on my bike to continue the battle.

In my 1st couple of laps I kept just behind a group of 4 riders who would drop me a little on the climbs and I would then catch in the technical sections. The rain started coming down pretty hard in our second lap and continued for the majority of race making the course very slippery and tricky in places. I started climbing better in my 3rd lap and fought hard to catch some ladies ahead of me losing ground again when in trying to pass on a technical section I came unstuck flying over my bars and leaving my bike further up the track! I continued to chase hard making up a few places in the climbs and some of the more technical drops where riders were opting for the chicken runs in the muddy conditions. Unfortunately I was pulled off before my last lap very disappointed but happy with 59th place for my 1st World Cup and having learnt some invaluable race tactics.

Results: Elite Ladies

1. Irina Katentyeva (Russia) 2:02:38.37

2. Marie-Helena Premont (Canada) 2:04:06.66

3. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway) 2:04:58.82

59. Yolande Speedy (RSA) - 1 lap

Till next time,

Yolande