Fifteen seconds to start…and they’re off for the first stage of the Andalucía bike race!
That’s how fast the 2023 season started, I didn’t even have time to grasp onto the reality we’re racing again, really didn’t even have time for any kind of nerves, just went on and raced my bike.
Let me get back to a few days before the race. I was supposed to get to Spain ten days before the race but as in 2021, I had a small allergic reaction and I was scared that it would trigger other inflammations like before so we postponed the trip to 3 days before the race. It all seemed fine, I got on a plane and when I landed it all quickly spiraled into a big allergic inflammation.
They really disrupted my sleep, and eventually I had to take antibiotics to fight the inflammation. At this point, my start was very questionable as I did not want to do any additional damage to my body. After all this is just a preparational race, part of my training since I had a big week of training before and after the race planned. My coach and I (mostly I), decided to start, and see how it goes day by day.
So I had no time to think about the race, I was just thinking of being healthy and able to train properly and without disruptions. Stefanie was supportive no matter what, we just came to have some nice weather and enjoy the trails of Andalucía.
The race itself was cold in the first few days and I had my new Schwalbe Racing Ray and Ralph on, which I hadn't ridden before the race.
I felt amazing when the race started, but decided to go a bit conservative on the downhills until I got to know the tires. It didn’t take much to have full confidence in them and together with Stefanie we had a lot of fun and worked great together.
The allergic reaction was not getting worse, which was good, but it was still disrupting my sleep.
In a six day race, you have to have a bad day. On the night of the time trial I felt good off the bike but the sleepless nights finally caught on to me and this was the day I felt I had no energy when I was racing.
On the 5th stage, as we were caught by the leading pair downhill, it was obvious we needed to sprint, after a downhill a little straight is where we lost the sprint, being the smallest of us four and having no intensity in my legs I knew I didn’t stand a chance on that day.
The next day I was thinking about a different tactic, we have to use our strengths. So gaining time alone on the last downhill, just so I can enter the sprint first proved to be a great tactic to win the last stage. Still we finished second with just over a minute behind the leaders after 20 hours of racing. It was a very exciting race which was refreshing for a stage race and made these 6 days go by at lightning speed.
I am really happy with how my race went and my fitness since we took a really slow approach to the season. We are still working on my base, but I was hitting some PBs in the short and long intervals during the race. Improvement is very motivating and this is exactly what I needed to continue my training towards the most important goals of the season. When I finished the race I went on to Costa tropical in Spain to continue training for another 8 days. I was very happy to be staying in Helios hotels which proved to be a perfect training and recovery spot. This also led to me having my best training in this period of year, and coming home not completely exhausted as we expected.
Now I have my first few days at home, then I will be off for the next races of the season. If you haven’t yet, check out the calendar section on the page since I’m looking forward to some XCO racing.