Friday, 3 June 2011
AlpenTour Trophy Stage 2
What an incredible day stage 2 of the AlpenTour Trophy had in store for us, in just 56km’s there would be 2400 metres of totally insane climbing. After just 2 minutes of neutralised rollout the gun went as we hit the start of first climb, an hour later the gradient hadn’t relented, eventually we peaked out at 1900 metres. Once again the European’s pace uphill was truly insane, Josh settled into his endurance pace, whilst I tried my best but mostly failed to chase down groups which had formed. The Australian U23 and Junior development team are here and it was good to see Euro Marathon Champs and XC fast guy Ralph Naef stop to help one of them fix a snapped chain midway up the first climb. By the top of the climb I’d focused on chasing down Mike Brodwick, another top World Cup rider.
The first descent started with some nasty slippery gravel fireroad, 2 Europeans sped past me so I jumped on their wheel and followed lines, as usual though once the singletrack started the same riders struggled to stay in control. Once onto the flat transition section to the next mountain we caught Mike who’d be dangling off the front of the group for some time.
Now the next climb was truly spectacular reaching over 2000 meters, along the way we climbed on fireroad which turned through hairpin after hairpin for maybe 30 minutes. Following this we hit a section with gradients ranging from no less that 20% to about 30%, this lasted for maybe 15 minutes before we hit the snow line where we were forced to walk through the sludge (rather disappointingly this made a mess of my white overshoes!) Through deep breathing Mike said something along the lines of “this is crazy”. Today we needed XTR chainset’s with a 26 tooth inner ring and a 36 tooth cassette and we didn’t have either so there was no choice but to grind our way up the steep sections, will have been an excellent muscle tension workout though!
Once we’d negotiated the following steep rocky descent which was basically just a huge boulder field we plummeted to 800 metres before one last much smaller climb which both Josh and me smashed our way up overtaking many riders who were suffering from their previous efforts. I pushed the pace pretty hard to the top of the World Cup course and was making up some good time until a mistake lead to a silly crash. It doesn’t look like I’ll be bringing back any prize money or UCI points but there are some good bruises to show off now! Luckily the shiny Kona which is attracting many fond looks remains intact and ready for tomorrow’s uphill time trial. Josh made good use of his excellent technical skills and chased down riders on the tough descent to the finish line.
After today’s stage the plan was to hit the local bakery but we’re both far too knackered so that’ll have to wait until tomorrow!