After Champery we decided to make more of our time in Europe and do some sighting on our way to Schladming, Austria. World Cup Finals, would be my last real race of the season. After the gruelling travel and race schedule of the last few weeks the team was feeling pretty tired.
5:40 Sunday morning we were up having breakfast and getting ready for the drive to Zurich to drop Georgia at the airport. From there we headed over the Fluela and Offen pass and down into Italy. We stopped midday for a ride in the mountains and again for fresh fruit at a local stand in Italy. By dinner time we were wrecked and stayed a night near Merano Italy.
Cappuccino, tortellini, Pizza…just some of the things Italy does really well.
I Love Italy and it is a must visit for any food, coffee, cycling or out doors enthusiast.
The next day Waldek, Zeph and I made it to Cortina d’Ampezzo and tre Croci pass. Keith and I had tried to make it here in the spring but ran out of time. The Dolomites were breathtaking and we did a great ride on an old rail way line, through tunnels and over rolling rivers.
After 2 days in the car and over 20hrs driving (with many photo breaks) we flopped into Schladming and right into bed.
The course in Schladming is physically very tough. It is predominantly climbing and steep climbs! Up grassy ski hill runs and descending off camber down those same runs. It is by no means the funnest course ever, but a challenge to race. I kept course time to a minimum feeling the best way to have a good race would be to not go in over tired.
With only one race to go, I thought about writing <2hrs on my stem to remind me that the suffering would be short lived. In the end I went for HFK (Hammer for Keith) who wakes up at 2-3am in Canada to watch my races live on Freecaster.tv. If I’m not riding at the front I know he’s not getting to see much on tv, so if he can miss out on sleep, I can sure do my best to make the coverage for him!
I was determined to have no regrets after this race and that meant not saving anything. From the gun we charged into the climbs. I lost a couple positions early on, but reclaimed them on the off camber descents deciding I needed to take risks to risk winning. By mid lap I was in 3rd position with Elisabeth Osl off the front and fellow Canadian, Marie Helene in front of me. Going into Lap 2 I took over 2nd position and things were on track. I pushed myself to reel in Elisabeth, but her Austrian home crowd seemed to help her fly up the hills.
Going into 3rd lap there was a chase group of 3 behind me. An untimely chain drop on the first climb lost me precious time and gave Lene Byberg an irresistible carrot. For 2 laps she chased me down hard and finally caught me on the last climb to the finish. I held off her first 2 attacks, but on the 3rd she slipped by and put 8 seconds into me as I tried to recruit everything to stick with her.
In the end we finished finals in the exact same order as we placed in the world cup overall. Osl in first, Byberg 2nd and myself 3rd. I’m very happy with this as I was the only one of the 3 to miss a world cup. Irina Kalentieva, this year’s World Champion finished 4th and Marga Fullana, the 2008 World Champ finished 5th having sat out the last race with a fractured vertebrae.
Now off to vegas!