It has been a busy start to 2015 with a variety of races on a variety of bikes. The World Cup season has only just started which is a lot later than usual therefore it has been a bit of wait and I have been preparing well for it. I started the year with a bit of Cross racing which went well and I managed to defend my U23 Cross title in which is my final year in this category so next year I will be a full on Elite. Following this I headed to Australia with the GB team and completed a lot of training in some great weather and raced the Herald Sun Tour, which went well and was a great experience. It was great fun to be a part of this trip.
Now I find myself in March and the mtb season is beginning to kick off but with the World cups not until May I tried to keep it steady and not to busy so I raced the opening few British rounds which all went well, although Sherwood pines was defiantly an experience this year and I spend a few days clearing mud out my eyes! A few more trips pieced together and a spell on the road and I started to feel in good shape, making sure I kept myself as healthy as possible.
Following this I headed to Europe for a small race trip at the end of April with my Dutch teammate Hans Becking, we raced in Belgium on the Friday night in a Cat1 National round. It was a very wet and muddy day so we got the mud tyres on and cracked on round the technical track. My race didn’t go plan as I messed up the start, which made my day out hard, but I started to move through later on in the race and felt all right, which was ok. Straight after this we road tripped to Germany and got in late at night for a race on Sunday. The race we had planned was a HC event in Heubach and since it was a high category event there was a lot of big names on the start list. I had decided to race Elite men, which I was excited about. We course practiced on the Saturday and I lined up on the 3rd row for a wet and muddy race on the Sunday. I started well and moved up to the front group which was cool and I ended up in a race with Julian Absalon who is the current world Champion and in the end I finished just behind him in 5th place and just ahead of last years world champion Nino Shurter, which I thought was pretty smart!
The first World Cup was being held in Nove Mesto Na Morave in the Czech republic, I was excited to race and we headed to the venue on Wednesday. The course had a couple of changes but nothing major as to previous years so I knew what to expect and it is a rooty natural track with some technical rock features. There were 150 boys on the start line and I had the number 1 board as highest ranked on the world rank, which I was really excited about. I prepared well and lined up bright and early on the Sunday morning for the race. It was a big start loop and I came round it 10 sec up with Sam Gaze for company and small group of 4 just behind. This turned into a front group of 4 of us for the early part of the race with it constantly changing positions. On the second last lap the group split and I drifted of the back and with two more coming past I found myself in 6th place but still able to see 3rd place, it stayed this close for the final lap and I ended up finishing in 7th place which wasn’t quite what I was looking for but I was happy to start my world cup season.
After this we drove to Albstadt, Germany for round 2, which would be the following weekend. The German track is quite different to Czech and consists of a more man made trail with some features and is a shorter lap with two main climbs. We stayed in the area for the week and got plenty of practice on the track and I was ready to go. I lined up 7th on the grid for this round, which represents my position in the series following the first round so still on the front row. Its always nervous just before the starts everyone lines up but I got a good start towards the front then after the first lap I had got a bit of a gap of around 15sec by myself. Then similar to the previous week a group caught me and we became 4 boys. We stayed like this in the middle part of the race then some small gaps started to open and I was sitting 4th place but we were all within 30sec so it was all to play for in the final part. I went flat out on the final lap to try and close the gap and at least get on the podium of which was just 5sec ahead of me but in the end I couldn’t get to third and I finished 4th place at 30sec on the winner and 5sec of the third step. It was a hard race and I was pleased with my effort and gave it all I had to get the best result but I’m still on the hunt for a top result so I will be back to the drawing board slightly and start preparing for the next round which is in about 4 weeks time in Switzerland.
Photos thanks to Irmo Keizer.