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16.04.2014
Appends to race/event: 11.04.2014 - 12.04.2014 // Sea Otter Classic, Monterey/USA

Friday, Short Track
7laps, 15km, 100m of climbing, 30min, 28.8km/h average speed
3rd place in sprint finish winner Todd Wells

Saturday, Cross Country
2 laps, 57km, 1500m of climbing, 2h, 28.4km/h average speed
1st place a few sec ahead of Finsterwald and Kabush

After coming home from South Africa on Thursday I had not many days at my Swiss home to spend. Soon I ended up going to the airport again. This time over the atlantic ocean to San Francisco, Specialized land! Monterey is the host of the traditional (24th issue) Sea Otter Classic, which is just around the corner of the Specialized office or "the temple of innovation". So double pressure was on for us Specialized riders!

I took it very easy training wise after the Cape-Epic. More muscle workouts like gym, high rpm intervals, light power workouts, jumping stairs and fun technical riding.

I totally felt recovered on Friday even with 24h of traveling and a 9h time zone change. My heart rate was so high during the short track I could feel my heart almost pumping out of my throat. I rode always in the top five positions and on the second last lap I even broke aways with Ettinger. I tried to light up the sprint with half a lap to go. I ether make it or Todd will have a good lead out. Second scenario took place and we were all happy. My first podium at a short track as long as my brain cells can think backwards.

The Saturday's Cross Country was super fast. Almost 29km/h average speed. No idea why I did not wear my aero helmet? Sure in that case I would have won easy :-) Luckily this year we did two laps again and a new last climb was added too. This definitely was in my favor and I could drop the small group during that section. Felt great to enjoy the victory all the way down to the finish line at the Laguna Seca race track, where every year a moto gp is taking place. Wondering how fast Valentino Rossi and company racing over the same finish line?!

Now I am staying a few das at the Specialized office in Morgan Hill before I travel to Prescott/Arizona for Whiskey50.

All pictures in curtesy of Dave McElwaine
 

 
 
10.04.2014
Appends to race/event: 23.03.2014 - 30.03.2014 // ABSA Cape-Epic, Western Cape/RSA

Images from Gary Perkin & Nick Muzik during the ABSA Cape-Epic
 

 
 
02.04.2014
Appends to race/event: 23.03.2014 - 30.03.2014 // ABSA Cape-Epic, Western Cape/RSA

Since we had four videographer on sight to cover stage by stage I do it the lazy way and just add the links below.

Have fun watching it, it came our really well!
 
Link 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKiIn8fbjS4
Link 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5oz0JjmM0M
Link 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MY0q20FLFD4
Link 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cig658hrJ9I
Link 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7gsQcvdpgE
Link 6: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPbUc085vzw
Link 7: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scD06z8889Q
Link 8: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvxlVKWdUZY
 
 
22.03.2014
Appends to race/event: 19.03.2014 // Aramex-Songo-Champions Race, Stellenbosch/RSA

All pictures from Ewald Sadie
 

 
 
21.03.2014
Appends to race/event: 19.03.2014 // Aramex-Songo-Champions Race, Stellenbosch/RSA

16km, 8 laps, 300m of climbing, 40min
First place in sprint against Lukas Flückiger

It is one of the most special races in the mountain bike calendar. I doubt there is any mountain bike race held in a township in South Africa with so many crazy spectators and pros. The kids were "eating" us!

We initiated this race three years ago, and I never thought that we can grow so much and inspire so many kids. After the race when I left in the darkness our Songo kids were still pinning it non stop racing each other on the bmx track. That was more rewarding to see compare to the feeling of crossing the finish line first.

Thanks to every one who made it happen!

More pictures to come!
 

 
 
15.03.2014
Appends to race/event: 09.03.2014 // Argus Cycle Tour, Cape Town/RSA

...and here we go the pictures!
I guess those will be the only once with skinny tires until 2015
 

 
 
11.03.2014
Appends to race/event: 09.03.2014 // Argus Cycle Tour, Cape Town/RSA

109km, 1300m of climbing, 2.40h
25th place sprinting with the lead bunch, winner Nolan Hoffmann

Its Argus Cycle Tour time! One of the coolest racing days of the year. To be one of around 40'000 cyclist racing or riding around the Cape. It is the biggest timed race in the world!
We pro/elite start in the first bunch at 6.15 when it is still almost dark. That means getting up 4.45. This year I could hear the wind hailing outside after the alarm woke me up in the deep sleep. Luckily the trees did not hanging "side ways" like in 2009, but it was very strong! I quickly ate two bananas with chocolate powder and yogurt and then it was already go time, for to meet my team mates near the start.
I knew the Tour de Boland will give me good road speed legs and so it did. I probably felt the best ever on this years Argus. On the last climb I even broke away with Darren Lill and a Team Bonitas guy. Unfortunately only Darren and myself were leading along the beach. The Bonitas rider was not allowed to do his turns since he had with Foucher a sprinter and last years winner in his team. What he did not know that Foucher was dropped a long time... For a while I thought we were going to make it, but just before Camps Bay we got chased down by the entire MNT team. I had no chance (well i also rode stupid) in the very windy final sprint. We were only a bunch of around 30 racers at that point any more. Rabon my Cape-Epic partner finished 5th very close of podium. Next year!

After the race we always ride over to the beach for breakfast and beer to finish an other amazing Argus!

Images to follow
 
 
08.03.2014
Appends to race/event: 04.03.2014 - 07.03.2014 // Tour de Boland, Western Cape/RSA

Prologue plus 3 Stages, around 400km in total.
20th overall, 13.50min down to winner Nic Dougall

I knew it is going to be cool racing and lots of fun. We were a team of six mountain bikers, all of us very good friends and strong! The problem was just we are not so used to road racing, pedaling high rev and tactics. Although the road business is also not rocket signs and with Rabon Frantisek my Cape-Epic partner we had a former Pro Tour roadie in our team.

My best finish was in Tulbagh with a 7th place. My hopes were on the final stage, a mountain top finish on Franschhoek pass. It is my South African home and suffer pass (we do most of our road intervals there) and boy I suffered going up there for 17minutes! Before that final climb my team mates Erik, Nico, Oli and Laurens paced really hard for 50km to chase down the breakaway. Thanks a million boys, but yeah then at the end Rabon and I could not deliver as we hoped, but still it was good fun and experience. I definitely lack that high speed power, where in mountain biking we use more torque to get up mountains.

The winner was an Australian racing in the colors of MTN. He was the most complete rider. Very very fast in the prologue, good in the wind, strong team and defended the lead up the mountain top finish.

I had a frustrating second last day, not making a breakaway where I lost around 7minutes in the overall. When the bunch split it was strong cross wind, myself too lazy to dig deep going right away or just too positive in my head that we will catch those guys again. Although I was in good company with other even much better positioned roadies who waited for too long too.

Big high five for the organization! It was perfectly pulled together, good vibe and road safety 1A!

Now one rest day before the biggest timed road race in the world: The Argus Cycle Tour in Cape Town. Around 40'000 riders!!! Luckily we are the first bunch taking off 6.15 in the -still- darkness of the mother city. One of my most favorite racing days of the year!
 

 
 
03.03.2014
Appends to race/event: 02.03.2014 // Argus MTB Challenge, Stellenbosch/RSA

55km, 1500m of climbing, 2.20h
5th Place, 3min off winner Darren Lill

The change of being in Switzerland for almost the whole of February was really cool! Good snow in the mountains for backcountry skiing and mild down at the lakes and flatlands for cycling. I never had to wear the very warm boodies once.

Now back in the beautiful Western Cape, South Africa. Travels went not so smooth with a short visit in Windhoek, Namibia first.... When we were almost about to land in Cape Town we had to fly all the way back to Windhoek for fuel. Cape Town had a shortage of it, so we had to juice to plane up, that it could fly back in the evening to Switzerland again.

Training wise I took it pretty easy for the last few days. I knew the Argus MTB will be a short and fast race.
On race day we rode to the start still in the darkness. How I love riding from home to the start line. All easy!
The racing then was less easy since we started full gas from the beginning to the end, plus we also added an extra steep asphalt climb into our race! We took a wrong turn because of really bad signing and a sleeping marshall! We lost the race right there.

It was Kevin Evans, James Reid, Johan Rabie and myself leading at that point. We kept on racing, but I must say my spirit was slightly gone, since the win was out of reach. With about 7km to go I also had a flat tire, but it was a quick fix and I was off again.
Darren Lill and Charles Keey were the only guys we could not catch any more. Those boys were the only pros who stayed on the right track and did not do that extra turn. Clever boys!

Now rest day this Monday before the Tour de Boland starts. A four day stage race close to Stellenbosch.
 
 
21.01.2014
Appends to race/event: 18.01.2014 // Fairview Attakwas Extreme, Outdshoorn/RSA

120km, 2700m of climbing, 4.54hrs
Second Place, 6.36min behind winner Urs Huber

First race of the season and a monster of a race! You might think 120km is not that crazy, but here in South Africa it is much more about the surface then the length or meters of climbing of a race!
Attakwas offers everything, from smooth gravel roads, to river crossings, sand, mud holes, big rocks, loose rocks, bushes, cow shit and what ever.

I am back into a good training routine since mid December here in Stellenbosch/South Africa. Sometimes the legs spin like a oiled turbo machine but then are days where you just don't even want to think about riding, but all in all everything is going very well and I can feel that I am getting in good shape. Not enough to win Attakwas though. Urs was stronger at the end of the rough Attakwas valley. Like 45seconds or so, but that was enough that i could not close the gap on the last 2hrs on the open fire roads in the head wind any more. Well I lost much more time actually and with that that my legs too. Racing all alone having no chance to win and also nobody in sight at the rear, where i could get some slipstream. I must say I was more then happy after I crossed the line.

All in all it was a super fun weekend! We were a bunch of good friends going up to the race, waking up at 4.30am. I made a huge pan of oatmeal but at the end we did not eat a third of it. I think it was more the early morning then the nervosity.

Also it was the first race of my new team mate Rabon Frantisek. Franti is coming from the road (HTC/Quick Step) It was his fist real mtb race and he did so well. Sprinting for third against Karl Platt. I am sure the next time he will winl the sprint finish, or I hope so! :-)
Also our strongest songo.info kid Sipho Madalo was a huge champ out there. Finishing the race in 31st. place, riding the last 30km without derailleur. Never give up! Sipho used his mechanical skills to make a single speed out of his Specialized bike.

 

 
 
  
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