Winning in Windhaag

Winning in Windhaag

This season has started slow. Much slower than I would have liked. I’ve had some big challenges from getting quite sick early in the year to the disappointment of average races and missing out on results at races that mean a lot to me – especially the Commonwealth Games and Nationals.

Emotionally It has been testing and probably the hardest season to date but somehow I have been able to keep the training and some amount of motivation going. The last month however I have finally started to feel like I am a racer again. Training has been the best I’ve done in a long time and even more importantly I actually feel like I have the bug back. I want to race!

Last weekend at the Sea Otter Europe I finished second! My best race this season by far, not just because of the result but how I felt throughout the process of pre, during and post race. These feelings were key for me to keep the ball rolling and back it up again in the Austrian Grand Prix C1 in Windhaag bei Perg one week later.

In Austria the race could not have gone much smoother, for sure there are still things I need to improve before the next block of World Cups but the legs were back and so is the will to hurt and dig deeper when you are already well in the red.

The course was two halves. The first half was steep, natural and punchy which was fun to ride but really difficult to race and the second half could be summed up with a long and fast climb and so drafting and tactics was a factor to be considered.

Pretty early into the race I was in the lead group of four and it became obvious where I was strong and where I was struggling. I tried a couple of times to get away on the climbs but was brought back in the second half by the Austrian teammates. I knew I had to get away in the first half lap and build the gap quick so they couldn’t work together to bring me back in the drafting section.

I attacked on the steepest climb with just under 3 laps to go and this time was able to open up the gap. From there I was just full throttle to the finish which although was painful I was smiling on the inside!

Winning this race means more to me than most, no race in Europe is gifted to you. After the ups and mostly downs of this year I feel that the reward is finally starting to show.

I will be racing again this weekend at the KitzAlp Bike festival which is one of the biggest race weeks in Austria which includes a marathon, hillclimb, cross country and gravel bike race. (I’ll just stick to the XC race) It will be my last race before the next block of World Cups so I’ll roll with this momentum and keep working towards my goals in the next chapter of season 2018!

Dan