I was lucky enough to be selected for the two big races in June - world cup round 3 in Italy and the European Championships in Switzerland the next weekend. After my win at Hopton woods I knew i was on better form so this would be a good opportunity to improve on my result in Germany.
UCI World Cup round 3 - Val di Sole, Italy
After a very twisty drive over some mountains from the airport in Milan (a journey that didn't sit well with my stomach), we finally arrived in the "Valley of the Sun" - and it lived up to it's name with roasting hot temperatures each day.
The course in Val di Sole was very steep and hilly, with three main climbs and some tricky rocky sections on the descents. The descents weren't overly difficult but with lots of dusty turns and different lines appearing it was going to be interesting to race on when tired. Overall the course was really tough when you linked it altogether but I felt it suited me pretty well.
On the Thursday we raced the XC eliminator which is a fairly new discipline consisting of a short lap, roughly 3-5mins where 4 riders race head-to-head with the top 2 advancing. This would be a new experience for any of the juniors, and with only the top 32 (including senior men) qualifying there really was no pressure on us. A good practice on the track which went up the first main xc climb and then down the 4x track meant it was really good fun but times would be very close. After a good warm up we headed over to the start area, but after some confusion from the officials we came very close to missing the start, and being under-prepared for when it did start. None of the juniors qualified for the final but we all learnt something from the experience.
The next couple of days were spent watching the other races, easy rides on the road and just resting up for Sunday morning.
So onto our race and with a gridding of 56th it was going to be another game of trying to move up the field. The start went ok for me, as usual I slipped back a little bit, but as soon as we hit the first climb I starting moving past big groups of people. The first two laps I really committed to the climbs giving my all then trying to hold that pace for as long as possible. This tactic worked well as I moved into the top 30, but it was taking it's toll. I still managed to keep the pace going and slowly pick off more riders but towards the end of the race I started to get cramp in my legs which I put down to the heat. On the last lap I managed to sneak into the top 20, finishing in 20th place and completely wrecked!
I was really happy with how the race went as I really attacked the first couple of laps which is usually where I struggle to get going. I could tell I was on good form now and would hopefully carry that onto the European champs the next weekend!
European Champsionships - Bern, Switzerland
After a long long drive we finally arrived in a small Swiss town near Bern where we would be staying for the next week. The course for the event was a really "modern" style course, lots of short steep climbs with some artificial jumps, a pumptrack section and lots of other fun bits! A really great course to ride and race on!
After a few days practice and easy rides on the surrounding roads it was the day of the race. Thanks to my result at the previous world cup I was relatively far up the gridding in around 30th. The start went pretty well for me compared to usual, slotting into the singletrack around 25th. The field stretched out here and on the next open section I tried to move up as much as possible. The legs were feeling prety good and I was riding well, moving into the top 15 towards the middle of the race. I was still moving up well with a possible top 10 on the cards. But then disaster struck when coming into one of the short steep climbs my chain snapped, leaving me running to the tech zone. This lost me a lot of time and places, dropping back into the mid-30s. With one lap of the race left I tried to get going again but running for so long and really taken it out of me and I rolled across the finish in 31st, disappointing after being in such a good position.