There was a bit of bike cleaning and prepping to do following Saturday’s race as well as some serious recovering. With back-to-back racing you really don’t know how your body is going to be the next day, so we always just try and rest up as much as possible in the hope that all will be good to go.
Given the previous day’s results we were riding a high and were gunning for it again, especially given this was the course we had fancied our chances on following the Friday practice. With over 200m of climbing per lap, some of it steep, up to the top of the mountain followed by a long and in places technical descent, it was much more to our liking and a very good course.
We had the same grindings again but didn’t get the sweet starts this time around, so were caught up much more in the peloton. Hamish was up ahead in the group and I worked really hard to move up before the track singled out and started going properly up hill. The last thing I wanted was to get stuck behind some slower riders and then have to bridge to the lead group.
Strangely the race was more tactical than the day before, perhaps there were some tired bodies in there who were trying to bluff their way in to a good position? They might have tried but this is mountain biking on a course with a massive climb so if you don’t have the legs you aren’t going to get anywhere.
By the second lap we were down to the same five riders again, with two of them in the group working together in a rather annoying way. One rider would sprint to lead the singletrack sections of the climb and then ease right up and block us out from pushing on, which was infuriating at the time. When we hit the fireroad closing in on the top I’d had enough of it and put the metal down to see if I could get rid of the guy. He swung around off the back, and front, for another lap or so before it was down to Hamish, myself, and Saturday’s winner Periklis Ilias the 2012 World Marathon Champion.
With two to go Ilias made his move, sling-shotting himself from the back of the two of us with Hamish leading at the time on a headwind section just before the final kick of the climb. We both tried to go with him and then close the gap on the descent which we were absolutely flying on, but he managed to hold on to a gap by the bottom and it was again man-on-man, head-to-head.
The last two laps got seriously intense as we maxed out trying to close down the leader and take the win. We couldn’t quite do it but it seemed almost unreal crossing the finish line again for another double podium just 24 hours later in similar, but much harder, fashion to Saturday.
It was two really hard races culminated to make a brutal weekends racing, but an incredibly successful one which made all the hard work preceding it worthwhile. A double, double podium was amazing. Both bikes and bodies were on top form, and with the final race of the season coming up in Portugal it looks like the end of this season is turning out to be a cracker.