Since my last update many things have changed in my cycling career! New year, new team, new sponsor (although I also keep my former main sponsor now as a side sponsor) and I have already done two races in 2015!
Late in 2014 I signed up for a new team and to partner up with Robyn De Groot Robyn whom I did three stage races in 2014, we work well together as a team both on and off the bike so it felt obvious that we should team up and I am looking forward to having a permanent team parnter for the whole of 2015. My main sponsor for 2014, Cape Brewing Company, supported this decision and step aside as the main sponsor to let me go to the new team since we both agreed that this was the right step for my career as a professional cyclist. I am a now a "brand ambassador" for the CBC instead. I feel incredible grateful for the way they have supported me in 2014 and still support me in 2015. When I go home to Sweden, the new team will "release me" and I will compete for Falu CK with CBC as my main sponsor.
The new team is Ascendis Health and I feel very happy to have been given the opportunity to ride for such a great company with lots of good brands under their umbrella! We are supported by Lange Sport who has all the staff around us. It is the first time in many years that I will have help at races with mechanics and people giving me bottles instead of stopping at the water points! Scott is our bike sponsor and it has been a long term dream for me to ride a Scott Spark RC so I am very happy!
Phot shoot in Oudtshoorn
We received our new Scott Spark RC mountainbikes just in time for the first race of the season the Attakwas, the Attakwas is known as one of South Africa's toughest one-day races and is always early in the season and no one is in true racing form, so it is a big shock to the system, but still fun to be back up and racing! It was great to compete on a full suspension MTB for the first time, I look forward to race the Epic on this bike. We had photo shoots in Oudtshoorn during two days before the race so there was a lot of other things going on around us.
The start was at 6.30am and a long 121km awaited us. I felt good early on and my tactic was to try and race as close to the front as possible. After the first hill I saw that I was the only girl in the group and I was feeling pretty good , we caught the mens elite bunch which was not riding so fast, unfortunately since it made my group increase their speed and at 28km I could not keep up any longer and ended up riding completely alone. At the second water point, which was the first tech zone, I was in the lead by 1:30 to Robyn and 4:40 to Ariane and I kept the lead until the Queen of the Mountain at 57km. 400 meters later I had a puncture in the front tyre! There was a small hole right between the rim and the tyre unfortunately the sealant couldn’t seal it, I tried using a CO2 bomb but nothing helped,so I had to put a tube in. During that time both Robyn and Ariane passed me.
I continued riding but the tyre felt a bit soft and as we came to a rocky descent, the most technical downhill in the race, I punctured the tube I had just put in…!! I thought about giving up because I didn’t have another tube, but I knew that the next water point was just after the descent and I remember that there was a neutral mechanic there, So I started running downhill with my punctured bike and at the water point I could ”buy” a new tube and put it in. I figured as long as I was in 3rd place it was worth continuing especially after taking the Queen of the mountains prize so that motivated me a little. The second half of the track is on dirt roads with countless steep hills, so it is tough! I rode mostly alone and at 85km the second technical zone, I got a new wheel instead . I finished in 3rd , I still felt happy with the day, dispite the bad luck, I saw that I was in good form and I did not give up but fought all the way and ended up on the podium! Robyn who was in the lead when passing me was passed by Ariane with 20km’s left, so it was a 2nd and 3rd place in our first race for Team Ascendis Health.
The week that followed the race we had a team launch in Johannesburg. We met the people from Ascendis, their companies and our other sponsors, so it was a very good evening for us! The following day we flew down to Cape Town for a Cape Epic Riders Launch, there were many interviews during those 24 hours ...
The whole team!
On Saturday we had our second race for the year. I had trained very hard early in the week and was hoping that I would recover in time. The competition was going to be tough as both Esther Suss and Ariane were there and also Helena Gibbon from the Ghost team, who was second at the U23 World Cup XCO last year, and of course most of South Africa's top cyclists. We were an unusually large ladies bunch which was great fun! It was the first time that this race was organized at Meerendal and it had immediately received UCI status, it was a fantastic course of 70km’s and it basically consisted of lots of singletracks and lots of climbing. It was a tough start! The group became smaller and smaller and at the Queen of the mountain after 20km, it was Robyn who won it, Ariane, Esther and I soon afterwards Bianca, a 19 year old girl who is really promising for the future! We rode together for a while on the single tracks but somewhere Esther and Ariane got a gap , and the 3 of us were trying to catch up. At the technical zone after 46km, we heard we were 1.5 minutes behind. We could see them for a long time! Robyn got a small gap to Bianca and I after all three of us crashed and we could never close it down. I struggled up the last climb and I felt I had not much left in my legs but still managed to open a gap on Bianca. This helped me mentally and I pushed on to take 4th place.
We had the same result order as at the World Marathon Champs last year where Esther was 4th, Ariane 5th, Robyn 6th and I 7th. Now we were 1-4 in the same order, just on a note;)