I started my journey to Latvia on Monday already, I gave my brother a lift to Stockholm and checked in at a farm stay near the airport. I got a short ride in on Tuesday morning before collecting Craig, he arrived from South Africa midmorning. We got spoilt with a private driver, guide and lunch from Irene from Åbro, I really do have the best sponsor in the world! Craig finally got to see Stockholm after being in Sweden 4 times before without visiting the capital city! Now he got 4 hours and loved it:-)
Early on Wednesday morning we boarded the flight to Riga in Latvia and after getting the rental car we realised they do not sign post the way we do and we got lost… Eventually we arrived in Sigulda, the town hosting the European XCM championships. We spent 4 days checking the route and getting ready for the race. The route was easy and not so technical but with a few short and very steep climbs, so it was a hard tail course. Personally I would have wanted a bit more technical. My mom and dad arrived a day after us to be my support team on race day since Craig was working for Topeak.
The weather had been very warm during the week but race day was chilly and perfect for racing. We had 2 laps to do on a 40 km course with a few different last few kilometres on each lap. We were around 40 girls on the start line and it was a pretty high pace from the start since everyone wanted a good position. It felt a bit messy until we got to the first climb on the lap, but after the climb we were a small group of 6-7 girls left and it all settled a bit. It was difficult to get the group to work together. After about 25 km we entered a longer forest section with a non-technical single track, I went in first but Sally passed me after a few kilometres and slowly but surely got away. I did not have good legs today and just did not have the power to go with. I was in second without seeing anyone behind me. After the split where the 2 laps went in different directions Katazina Sosna caught me just before the 3 very steep climbs (the steepest place was 27% gradient) and I pulled away on every climb only for her to catch me after. We rode together the whole of the second lap and my plan was to ride away from her on the 1 km long climb up to the finish. When we got there she stuck to my wheel longer than I had planned for. There were a lot of spectators close to the top and they were cheering so loud, which was awesome, but I could not hear where Katazina was so I really had to give it my all! When I went around the last turn in to the 100 meter flat finishing straight I did the best possible sprint my tired legs could do and managed to get the silver medal! An awesome feeling to take my first international championship medal!!
Well done to Sally on the win today, she was really strong!!
An extra thank you goes to mum and dad for coming all the way to Latvia to hand me bottles along the route! And a huge thank you to my sponsor Åbro for making this possible for me!
Katazina and I through a feed zone.
Close to the top of the last climb
Completely finished after the sprint!
A very nice feeling to hold up the medal:-)