I did my fifth consecutive "Mörksuggejakten" yesterday. It is one of my favorite races in Sweden, it must be the most beautiful surrounding for a race and the course is fun and fast over lots of rocks and roots and all on single tracks. This was my first MTB race when I decided to move over to MTB 4 years ago!
The prize for the hill sprint after 3km is a 2 night voucher at one of the hotels in Rättvik so Craig and I went there last week to use my voucher from last year and to train on the course, always good to freshen up the memory and to see the new sections of the course!
I must admit that I was a bit nervous, I felt a bit unsure of my form since last week was mostly about recovering from worlds and to see the course, so still not much hard training. I am also always a bit nervous doing my first race in Sweden for this year and I knew that Hanna was in good form as always and was going to be tough competition.
The neutral start through town is always chaotic but I got a good start and was close to the front of the bunch. 1500 riders started all together!! The lead car let the group go when we hit the bottom of the frist climb which is 2,5km long and 200 meters in ascent, it is a hard start to the race! I felt like I was climbing well but soon I had Hanna next to me and we were fighting it out for the hill sprint which I managed to take, only to see her passing me just after. I could not keep up and lost her for a bit on some fast gravel roads, my legs were burning and I think the hard start was a shock to the system. I thought it was over already. But as I came out from a forest section I saw her at the back of a mens bunch a few hundred meters ahead and I started chasing. It took a while to catch but finally I was on her wheel. We were together for a long time and were constantly fighting for position all the time among the men, I think both of us wanted to sit in front just in case the other one would loose the wheel in front. I felt stronger on the single tracks and on a long forest section I could hear that I got a small gap. More guys caught our little bunch and I was not sure exactly where she was. In a corner with some loose rocks I heard something happening and it sounded as if someone crashed and a while later I heard a rider saying that Hanna had crashed but was on her way back.
I sat in a bunch of guys and just followed, no point for me to push hard only for the guys to catch or sit on my wheel. With 15km to go I got a report that I was 1minute ahead and I also got the second sprint prize there. I kind of thought I was safe when I was on the last 5-6km and it was only single tracks left to the finish but on a steep uphill that makes a turn I looked back and I could see Hanna coming! I put the hammer down but when we came on to the start/finish arena and we went out on a new 1,5km loop to finish off, she was only about 100 meters behind! The last 1,5km felt like just one long sprint, I gave my all and all I could think was that as long as I am first it does not matter how close she is! With a few hundred meters to the line I turned around and could not see her so I could relax a bit and put my arms in the air as the winner of Mörksuggejakten for the 3rd consecutive year, it was a very sweet victory after being sick and after such a tight race!
A huge thank you to Craig and my parents for supporting me during the race with bottles, gels and time reports! And of course thanks to my sponsor Åbro, I was happy to finally show my new jersey at a race in Sweden!
Now I have 3 weeks until the next race and I am looking forward to 3 weeks of solid training!
Such a sweet victory!
Was completely finished afterwards....
Podium with Hanna and Felicia
The traditional "victory ice cream" from Rättviksglass (Rättviks-icecream, locally made) with my supporters!