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Tough going for SA riders at Albstadt World Cup
- Updated: May 23, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
It was a tough day at the Albstadt ‘office’ for South Africa’s mountain bikers at round two of the UCI MTB World Cup XCO series on Sunday.
All the South Africans battled to make an impact on one of the toughest courses used for this discipline.
The men’s elite race saw Team Spurs rider James Reid ending 88th in a race won by Switzerland’s Nino Schurter in 1hr 28min 38sec. Cape Town’s Reid was two laps off the pace as was fellow South African Travis Walker.
In the elite women’s race Mariske Strauss (pictured above) and Cherie Redecker flew the flag in Germany for SA, the Novus Omx Pro Team duo placing 44th and 51st respectively and 10:52 and 13:10 off the pace as Denmark’s Annika Langvad won in 1:33:03.
Said Strauss: ‘It was tough and it’s strange how you forget just how hard a WC is. But I’m happy. I fought hard and moved up and main thing is that I finished,’ the 25-year-old told Road to Rio 2016.
‘Its been a year since I’ve raced a WC and its so amazing to be back. I’m hungry and ready for more. Now its just to climb my way back up the ladder. I know I can do it and I have done it before but small steps at a time and before we know it ill be back up there.’
Getting into the actual race and Strauss said that the course had dried out and the day turned out warm and close to perfect.
‘The course totally dried out, everything seemed to fall into place and before I knew it I was on the startline ready to go.
‘Well at the back of the startline. I think there might have been one person behind me, but that’s what happens when you’re off the scene for a year.
‘I kept calm and the goal was to firstly finish the race and secondly keep moving up the ranks. I managed to get to 37th with one lap to go, but that last lap was like “death”. I started going backwards and finished in 44th. But all in all I’m still very happy. I raced consistently and finished my race, now for next weekend. Massive thanks to my amazing team who have helped and supported me through the tough times and given me a proper base and support structure where we need it most (at the WC’s).’
Echoing her team-mate’s sentiments was Redecker. ‘Preparations were good for the race and I felt relaxed. The last two races I’ve had in Albstadt weren’t great so I was hoping to leave this time with a good performance.
‘The new start loop made a big difference. The previous years only 24 ladies didn’t get lapped now 51 managed to finish without getting lapped.
‘The start was tough but I managed to stick with a nice group and got into a rhythm. Unfortunately on one of the steep descents a girl crashed in front of us and when I was going past she tried to get on her bike causing me to crash which was really annoying since this lost me some places but that’s racing and I should have stayed composed
‘But instead I pushed hard to try and catch the group I was with. With two laps to go my whole body tightened up and I couldn’t push any harder. Finishing the second last lap I thought I would be pulled off but I was able to finish the last lap.
‘It gave me a bit of energy to press on but I lost two places and time from cramping. But I’m happy with my race and know there is still room for improvement.’
In the men’s Under-23 race, African Youth Games champion Alan Hatherly ended 53rd, 10:28 behind winner Samuel Gaze of New Zealand.
The young Kargo Pro Cycling Team rider said on social media afterwards: ‘Disappointed with how today went, flat on second lap and then couldn’t find the rhythm again. Onto France next weekend.’