Racing the World Cup: Offenburg Germany

Sunday morning the skies were overcast and there was a good breeze. Much nicer racing conditions than 33 and muggy. As we rode over to the race site the first drops of rain started to fall, but lightly. At 10:30 all 110 girls were being corralled into our starting pens based on number. The top 40 positions were based on Houffalize (WC *1) results and then doled out according to UCI points. I was number 94, which was actually better than I expected. Alison Sydor was 80th so I was hoping to grab here wheel. Fortune was on my side as my number was called and a position behind Alison was still open. She had wisely lined upon the outside to shoot past the traffic that would clog on the inside of turn 1.

With 1 minute to go all of the girls behind me had squeezed up into my row and the whole area condensed into a mesh of girls waiting anxiously for the start gun. The gun went off and I kept my eyes glued to Alison’s back. She once told me it didn’t matter where she started, she could always make her way up to the start. I was hoping she would be true to her word. Alison did make it up to 12th position from 80th. By the end of our 2 start loops I had made it into the high 30’s. Pretty exciting. The girls were riding the chutes much better than I had expected which was good for the flow of traffic. At one point I got past about 5 girls by taking a different chute line, but on the singletrack climb immediately after I dropped my chain and was passed by about 7 girls. It’s pretty crazy to race for over 2hrs and be constantly surrounded by women the entire race.

As usual the European fans did not disappoint with over 15 000 spectators showing up and lining the descents and wooded climbs hoping I’m sure to catch a little carnage. Over the 6 laps I was able to steadily work my way up. Around lap 4 and 5 I started catching the girls I was used to racing, but not often beating like Georgia Gould, Shonny Vanlandingham, Alison Sydor and Heather Irmiger. I caught up to Sandra who was riding well and we road together for almost a lap before I squeaked away. Rain started hammering down on us mid race and rain streamed down the course. Girls started getting timid on the chutes. After initially feeling a bit timid I quickly realized they were just as rideable and sometimes better as brake bumps were smoothing out. I did follow one of the Chinese girls a little too closely down one though and had to do some one legged acrobatics to avoid crashing, but this only got me more cheers and I was able to keep going. The race was not without its crashes for me however. Early on I slid out on a corner and twisted my handle bars around. Last lap I was again to be bested by this corner taking a full on head plant. I actually thought I had broken my helmet, but later found out it was just the 1lb of mud stuck in all the air vents on the right side that made it sit so awkwardly. I also tore the buckle off of my shoe so I had a large piece of plastic dangling from my shoe and tangling in my chain rings. This made pedalling a bit tricky, but I was only about 1 km from the finish. On the last power climb –the one from the start loop - Ivonne Kraft went by me, but I stuck on her wheel for the descent. On the final corner I grabbed the inside line which was drier being under a tree and was able to come up alongside her for a finishing sprint through the soggy finish line. She clipped me by less than half a second, but I think that’s the most competitive sprint I’ve ever put out. I felt good at the end of the race and was really happy to have gone from 94th to 27th. This puts me 42nd overall on the WC circuit, not bad considering I didn’t race Houffalize. Only the top 40 girls get called up by WC points though, but this should still seat me at least in the top 60 for the next race in Champery, Switzerland in two weekends.

Offenburg World Cup Germany
Women - 34.9km, 110 Starters

1. Irina Kalentyeva (Rus) Topeak-Ergon


2. Marie-Helene Premont (Can) Rocky Mountain Haywood

at 1:28

3. Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Nor) Multivan Merida Biking Team


4. Margarita Fullana (Esp) Spiuk-Tau Ceramica


5. Sabine Spitz (Ger) Ghost International Racing


6. Tereza Hurikova (Cze) Ceska Sporitelna Mtb*


7. Chengyuan Ren (Chn) China*


8. Maja Wloszczowska (Pol) Halls Professional Mtb Team


9. Willow Koerber (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher


10. Kiara Bisaro (Can) Opus


11. Susan Haywood (USA) Trek-Vw


12. Cecile Rode Ravanel (Fra) Team Lapierre International


13. Eva Lechner (Ita)*


14. Nina Gohl (Ger) Multivan Merida Biking Team


15. Elsbeth Van Rooij-Vink (Ned) Beone Mountainbiketeam


16. Anna Enocsson (Swe) Ghost International Racin


17. Petra Henzi (Sui) Fischer-Bmc


18. Ying Liu (Chn) China*


19. Elisabeth Osl (Aut) Tonis Pro Team Kirchberg*


20. Nathalie Schneitter (Sui)*


21. Renata Bucher (Sui)


22. Katerina Nash (Cze) Luna Womens Mtb Team


23. Lene Byberg (Nor) Specialized


24. Anna Szafraniec (Pol) Halls Professional Mtb Team


25. Rosara Joseph (NZl)


26. Ivonne Kraft (Ger) La Carrera-BTS


27. Catherine Pendrel (Can) Norco


28. Laura Turpijn (Ned)


29. Laurence Leboucher (Fra)


30. Jingjing Wang (Chn) China


31. Nina Homovec (Slo)*


32. Heather Irmiger (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher


33. Georgia Gould (USA) Luna Womens Mtb Team


34. Sandra Walter (Can) XO Felt


38. Alison Sydor (Can) Rocky Mountain Haywood


54. Wendy Simms (Can) Kona Les Gets