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Alexander ready to defend National title

After a blinding ride at last weekend’s Durango World Cup round, Team Specialized’s Caroline Alexander is tired but ready to defend her red white and blue jersey. We catch up with the latest race diary entry;”Almost eleven years ago I made the pilgrimage to Durango and despite being a complete novice took part in the first ever U.C.I sanctioned World Mountain Bike Championships . This event changed my life .

Then the race was held at Purgatory , a ski resort 30 miles north of town and 2000 ft higher , but on this occasion this venue was reserved for the downhill and dual slalom events . The cross country course was located above town at Fort Lewis College . I have to admit to being somewhat disappointed by this . As far as I am concerned the higher and the harder the better . Although this was a challenging circiut , it can best be described as ” a sea level style course at altitude ” . In other words it was a racing course as opposed to the climber’s benifit I had been expecting ! I chose to ride my hardtail , as the descents were not particularly rough and the lap was super fast . It was also likely to be a short race . Not only do I take in to consideration the nature of the terrain , but the estimated time we will be racing for too .

Although mountain biking is an individual sport , my team mate Barbara and I were united by a common goal – to eliminate Alison Dunlap . In order to tighten her grip on the overall standings , Barbara knew she had beat her and I desperately wanted to win the race .

After a short loop mainly on pavement the track plummeted , so a good start was essential . After my pathetic effort (at the start) in Vancouver , I knew that I had to be much more aggressive . I led the field around the start loop and then Barbara took over on the opening downhill . Sure enough Alison was glued to Barbara’s wheel , however she could not hold it for long . On the kilometer long drag that followed , I accelerated across the gap to join Barbara leaving the rest of the field trailing in our wake .

Towards the end of the first lap , on a long section of single track , my foot bounced out of my pedal . It was sometime before I was able to reengage and this allowed Dunlap to rejoin me . Going through the start / finish Barbara had a 10 second lead , but behind us , Mary Grigson was charging hard . Riding way above her limits , Alison exploded on the climb . Mary however was on fire . She passed me at the mid point of the race and Barbara shortly afterwards . The distance between Barbara and I hovered between 10 and 20 seconds on the third and final lap , but Mary was gone for good .

Although I had hoped for better , I was very satisfied with my third place finish , which lifted me to third in the overall world cup standings . I knew fatigue was begining to set in after over 5 weeks on the road , but I had accomplished a great deal . My NORBA win was a real bonus and proved that on a high alititude course that favours climbers I am a serious threat . However if I am to mount a real threat at the World’s I need to take a short break , but this will have to be postponed for a couple more days as this weekend are our National Championships where I am determined to defend my title .”

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