A new venue for me and the first time a major XCO race had been held in Les Gets since World Champs in 2004. After a 9 hour drive on Monday from Andorra we settled in and I got out on the bike on Tuesday for some laps of the course. My initial impression wasn’t great with the course featuring a couple of kilometres of wide taped grass sections and nothing remotely technical. However, I was still able to crash heavily while checking out the track.
I came over a crest and the track dropped down and to the left. I was carrying too much speed and missed the catch berm at the bottom completely, going off the track and down the bank, taking out a plenty of tape and a wooden stake with my chest.
I grazed myself up well and dinged up my helmet, but luckily no head injuries or anything else too major. My most annoying thing was trying to sleep with grazed skin.
Friday rolled around and it was time to go short track racing. I had a decent start and spent the first few laps suffering away in the choking dust, hoping the pace would slow down a bit. Unfortunately it didn’t and I fell further and further back, eventually finishing 30th which meant I would get called up in the XCO far back on the 4th row. Although it was close to the worst I’d felt during a race this season I tried to stay positive for a good result in Sunday’s XCO.
I fought hard to make up some spots off the start but there weren’t any gaps that truly opened up for me. After coming through lap 1 a long way back I dug deep to try and gain back some places but it was clear something wasn’t right. I kept losing places no matter how hard I pushed and it wasn’t until the second half of the race that I started to pass some riders back, but that was more a case of them blowing up than me getting faster! I left it all out on the final lap, winning the sprint for 36th place and my worst World Cup result in over 3 years.
I was proud of the way I fought until the very end but for sure there is a lot of reflection to be done on what went wrong between the World Cups in Andorra and Les Gets. The picture is already starting to become a lot clearer and I’m looking forward to taking a week off the bike before turning my focus to the final World Cups and my main goal of the season, World Champs in Canada.