Breaking your ribs is painful! I might have thought I have had broken or fractured ribs before until I really broke a few, I now know that I have not done that before… It has been a few weeks with a lot of pain and in a strange way it just gets more and more sore and then suddenly it gets a lot better, just to be more sore again that’s the way it carried on for 6 weeks.
Finally it was time for me to race again, I was nervous and I felt unsure of how the form was, it is always difficult to say how the race form is compared to training. Craig and I left on Thursday in the new Skoda from Bilmetro to go to Strömstad for Grenserittet, a race which starts in Sweden and finishes in Norway and I had the chance to take my 3rd consecutive win here. I rode the route on Friday (in pouring rain) to check the new sections and find places where I could apply more pressure on my competitors. My normal competition from the previous 2 years were not there and the toughest competition was going to come from Emelie Moberg (road pro in team Hitech) and everyone told me not to take her to a sprint, and Ingrid Bö Jacobsen (silver medallist at the Elimination World champs 2015) both from Halden, the town where the race finishes so they knew the route very well.
The ladies had our own start and we set off as bunch number 4 so we had a lot of riders in front of us on the course. I tried to set a high pace from the start but no one was interested in trying to break away and the race was very negative, felt like a road race… I did not enjoy it so I decided to give it a go on the new technical section and managed to get a gap. I still had 50 km to go so I had to pace myself not to go too hard. I kept a solo lead for just over 30 km and passed a lot of men’s bunches and I thought if I could pass them the other girls should not get much help. But with 18km to go I saw 4 girls coming up next to me in a big bunch of guys…. So I had to re-focus on plan B, a sprint! I felt that I was the strongest rider so I knew that I had to be first up the short climb up to the finishing stretch. With 6km to go, Ingrid passed 2 guys on a steep technical downhill but the rest of us got caught behind and she got away. I had to chase hard to get back to her. The Norwegian ladies champ went to the front as we started to approach the finish, it was perfect for me since I got her wheel, she started to fade a bit before I had planned to take the lead so I set a high pace a few hundred meters too early and from there I just gave it my all and managed to perfectly follow the plan and win Grenserittet for the 3rd time with a margin of 2 seconds, my biggest win at this race!
It felt very good to win against 2 good riders in their hometown.
After prize giving we had a 5,5 hour drive back home to Falun just to unpack and prepare for tomorrow’s race Finnmarksturen.
I was very tired when I warmed up on Sunday and did not feel too good from the start of the race. We kept a good pace up the first climb and we were 3 girls who got away early on. Soon we lost one and Felicia and I got away and stayed together for the whole race. I tried a half hearted attacks a few times to get away on my own but when I saw that she kept sticking to my wheel I started to realise that it was going to come down to a sprint again and I did not want to burn too much energy on the last part of the race. With about 1-2km to go I planned to go first on a narrow single track but as I approached it, Felicia pushed through so I decided to sit her wheel and wait until later. With about 3-400 meters to go I attacked and got a good gap and could take the second win in a sprint for the weekend.
It was so much fun to race again and winning was just a bonus!