I did another training race this weekend, this time it was a 2-day stage race here in Stellenbosch, it's always nice to be able to sleep at home and only have a short drive to the start. Esther, who came here a week ago, was also racing. It was nice to have her here again and we had been training one time together during the week as well. There were two short days of 55 km each, the shorter the route the harder the pace will be, which was a bit different to the previous 2 weekends. I had been training quite hard during the week and could feel that my legs were tired, so I struggled a bit with the fast pace from the start on day 1. I tried to go with Ariane but could not keep up and maybe it was a bit stupid to try since I ended up in no man’s land on my own when she got away with some guys. I saw a group behind me, but I still tried to work hard on my own. Eventually the next group caught me, and Esther was there, we ended up riding together for a long time. I crashed after hooking my handle bar in a steel wire on a fence we had to go through and the handle bar got skewed and I had to stop twice to try and straighten it. I was very tempted to take the short route when I saw the split soon after….. Esther punctured with about 10 km to go so I came 2a and she was 3a on the stage. It was a price for "Queen of the mountain" but it was fastest over a distance instead of the normal when it is the first person on top of a climb, it was a stretch of about 6 minutes and I managed to win this one.
My legs were really tired after the race and I have the world's best boyfriend, he gave me a massage to help me recover even though he had been in the hospital for a few hours for a kidney stone!
I think the massage worked cause I had better legs day 2 and could hang on to Ariane a bit longer, she is in a very good form at the moment and after about 10 km I just could not hand on any longer. Esther had let go a bit earlier and was a bit behind. I struggled with my gears all day and afterwards my mechanic told me my derailleur was broken, I probably bent it when I crashed the day before…. I saw Ariane for a long time but could not get close enough. At the first water point I was told I was 1.20 behind and at the second water point it was 55 seconds, so at least I had made up some time there. It was a long climb towards the end with a long downhill single track after. I saw Esther closing the gap to me and I think I lost a bit of the fighting spirit and she caught me on the downhill when we had done about 44 km. We just rode together to the finish and she went over the line in 2nd place and me in 3rd. That gave me a 2nd place overall and Esther in 3rd.
It was a good training weekend and I will now have a few easy days before Tankwa Trek which starts on Friday. It is a 3 day UCI stage race where Esther and I will race as a team. We won this race last year and we will see what we can do this year, the competition will be much tougher this year with more really good teams lining up.
Ben the trail dog is leading us out!
Start with the World champ at the front
During the first stage
Riding with Esther on day 1
Kind and Queen of the mountain on day 1
On day 2
Tight uphill switchbacks on day 2
Podium after 2 days.