Cykelvasan is a very special race! In many ways. It is the biggest MTB event we have in Sweden,during the 2 days 23000 people take to the start to tackle the different distances. The longest route is the 94 kilometers we do from Sälen to Mora and we are following the foot prints of the King Gustav Vasa on his journey away from the Danes sometime around 1520. Since it is more down than up we are averaging over 30km/h at a MTB race, at the same time it can be really hard to keep that high speed for 3 hours. This is the only event in Sweden which is shown on TV and has a lot of media attention. Everyone has their eyes on CykelVasan. So this is a very special race in many ways.
I have won the race on 3 occasions, the previous 2 years in a row, so I had a lot of pressure to take my 3rd in a row, no one has ever done that before, men or woman.
I love the atmosphere at the expo at Lindvallen in Sälen the day before the start, even if it is not good to be on your feet a whole day I was happy to walk around and chat to people between interviews and meetings.
In 2016 we had a ladies start for the first time, we started 45 minutes ahead of the men and had our own race all the way to Mora, it was a success and this year even more girls came to the start. We were 68 girls in the ladies racing field, the biggest I have ever seen at a race in Scandinavia, it is awesome to see so many girls wanting to race! Last year 22 girls finished in Mora before the men came for their sprint, this year it was 28 girls!
It was a strong field, unfortunately Gunn Rita Dahle Flesjå was sick and could not start, I was looking forward to race with her. I knew that the 2 other Norwegians, Hildegunn and Borghild would be strong and also Hanna, Åsa and Ida. The race starts with a 3 km climb and we dropped most of the girls on the way up and became a group of 10, no one really wanted to sit at the front but we could still keep a decent pace on the flat road. I had planned where to go to the front before the first sprint prize (we had 7 during the race) but when the speed was too slow I went to the front a bit too early but still managed to take the sprint. We kept going and eventually a pace line got formed. When we were approaching the second sprint prize I saw Borghild moving up to the front and I had Åsa in front of me, I could not get passed Åsa and got a bit stressed since I saw Borghild getting a gap. I managed to pass and catch and just get up next to Borghild before the line and managed to take the sprint by half a wheel (this is where I recorded the highest heart rate for the whole race). This also meant that we got a gap and we kept pushing but some of the girls caught up with us (I don’t know how many). As we started a climb I could hear how a few girls were breathing hard so I moved to the front and set the pace, I only got Borghild, Hanna and Hildegunn with me and the 4 of us could go clear. It was not far to the next sprint prize after the climb so I kept sitting at the front to keep the pace high since it was difficult to pass and I wanted to be in front. I managed to take the 3rd sprint as well.
On a tar section when it was Hildegunns turn to roll through I could see that she was doing something with her shoe, but at a closer look I saw her chain was off the front ring, she had to stop and fix this and it took too long and she was gone. The 3 of us kept going and worked very well together from there. It was obvious that no one was going to get away and no one really tried either, in a way I think all 3 of us were happy with the situation. I managed to take all the sprints, all 7 of them, but I was still nervous for the final sprint to the finish and tried to plan it in my mind. I did not want to come in first to the finishing stretch since it is quite long. When we had 3 km to go I felt that Hanna wanted to sit at the front, I tried to help but she just moved back up and kept a high pace, since that was a perfect situation for me I let her stay there. As we came around the last corner with 500 meters to go I turned around and saw that Borghild had dropped a few meters. I stayed on Hannas wheel until the circle 150 meters before the line and stuck to my plan to go from there, and it worked!!!!!!! I got my 3rd in a row and was over the moon with happiness!
Thank you so much to everyone cheering along the route, to my family and Craig for the support! Well done to my brother who did his personal best this year! And thank you again to Åbro and CBC, what would I do without you!!?
Big ladies field :-) Photo: Niclas Brus
Coming around the last corner! Photo: Garry Jones
The sprint! Photo: Nisse Schmidt dt.se
Happy!! Photo: svt.se
The podium:-) Photo: Dad