Here’s Team Specialized racer, Caroline Alexander’s report from the slippery Swiss slopes of last weekend’s World Cup.
After the downpour that preceeded our Nationals , the U.K was blessed with ten days of hot sunny weather . I took full advantage of this and made the most of my ” holiday at home ” , sandwiching time spent with my family and friends between long , slow rides over my favourite Lakeland passes . I knew I had to refresh my mind as well as my body , as all too soon it would be time to pack my bags for my final trip of the year .
My first stop was Leysin , high above Lake Geneva in one of Switzerland’s French speaking cantons. As I am focusing 100% on winning a medal at the World Championships in seven weeks time , it is impossible for me to be at my best for either of the remaining European World Cups , but I am still very motivated to ride as well as my condition allows and maintain my position in the overall standings .
The 6.5km loop was characterised by a kilometre long downhill at the start , but what goes down must come up and after weaving it’s way through a wooded area , the course returned to the start / finish area via the same alpine meadow . Although uphill bumpy grass is a speciality of mine , I did not relish the thought of plunging down the field in a pack , but thankfully the organisation saw sense and decreed that Sunday’s race would start at then bottom of the hill .
As it was , a casualty of a particularly nasty jump , not 150 metres into the course delayed Friday’s time trial for some time . Thankfully proceedings resumed before the heavens opened and I posted the fifth fastest time , a position which I was pleasantly suprised by , as it ws the first time I had pressed on the pedals in almost two weeks .
The rain that had been threatening since mid morning began in the evening and did not abate until late on Saturday and although Sunday promised to be warm and sunny I knew the woods would be slick . The correct tyre choice was crucial and I was undecided until 30 minutes before the start . In the end I opted for the Rockstar’s , but this was a major error !
I lead for the first three kilometres of the race and going in to the woods on the opening lap myself , Marga and Laurence Leboucher had a sizeable gap on our pursuers . However once in the trees Marga’s hard packs prevailed – while I had absolutely no braking grip and floundered like a novice . I made the most of my power and speed on the grass and gravel sections , but I was losing more time than I was gaining . First Annabella Stropparo caught me and then with less than half a lap remaining Gunn Rita Dahle and Sabine Spitz too .
Sixth place was better than I had envisaged , but then I had never expected to feel so strong . I remain in third place overall , but cannot afford to let Sabine get the better of me in Kaprun or Mont Ste Anne for that matter either !
Stay tuned for Caroline’s last report from Kaprun this weekend before she heads off for the Worlds.