After Sani2C I had a few days at home in Stellenbosch to repack for my trip to Sweden for the Swedish season. The travelling went well even though my bikes did not make the connection at Heathrow so they arrived by taxi a few hours after me. I got a cold when I first arrived, but that is as per normal now since it happens every year after all the travelling and lack of sleep. Then the Swedish summer really showed its best side… or not… It was raining for days and days and the temperature was between 5-10 degrees. I had to take out all the winter clothes for cycling in the rain! The route for Långa Lugnet got changed a few times due to all the water!
On race day it was 9 degrees and drizzling when I had to leave home on my bike to warm up to the start. It was very cold to take all the warm clothes off to stand there in shorts at the start, luckily it had stopped raining by then. We had a ladies only start at 10am, this was the first time I did a race in Sweden with a separate ladies start. It is such a big difference when we can race with and against each other instead of with the men! We were 5 girls that got in to a break from the start climb and we stayed together on the open gravel roads in the beginning. Somewhere on the first loop 2 girls dropped off and it was clear that it was going to be a battle between me, Ida Jansson and Isabelle Söderberg. I knew that I had to be first when we entered the downhill track that took us down to the stadium where we had the only sprint prize of the day. To be sure to be first I went to the front way earlier since it was difficult to pass. My plan worked out and I managed to take the sprint!
On the second loop we all worked and I was very surprised when Isabelle dropped off and was suddenly gone. At the same time Ida was super strong and I had to work hard to stay with her. She got off the bike in a mud pool and I managed to stay on and get away to get a gap, I did not stress too much to stay away since I knew she would catch up. We carried on riding together. Out on the 3rd loop I got in to a dip and really had to dig deep not to drop off. In another mud pool we both got off our bikes but Ida got away quicker than me so I had to chase a bit to catch her. I got some new energy closer to the end of the race and I had noticed that I had a bit of an advantage on the technical sections and especially on the downhills. The last 5 km of the race was on 3 handmade downhill tracks and I felt confident that I could take this race if I could just go first on the first single track. I went to the front a bit before the top and stayed there to enter the single track first and my plan worked well since I got a gap already at the top of the track and I could keep it all the way to the finish! It was really nice to be able to come solo to the finish and have time to celebrate before the line in my home town! This was the first time I won this race and it made it feel even better! It was also nice to give my Swedish sponsor ÅBRO a win in the first race of the season.
A huge well done to Ida, only 18 years old next week, for riding so strong!! The future is really bright for Swedish MTB!
A cold ladies start!
The start climb
Out on loop 1
On the way down the new "Flow track" on loop 1
A few meters before the sprint prize
With a very strong Ida
Podium when we are a bit cleaner;)