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21.09.2014

I seriously don’t like to drop out of a race, especially due an injury! On Friday I tried everything to get myself over the first big climb, but around 200m before the summit the pain in the outside of the knee was just too much. Like a knife stabbing me during every pedal stroke.

I was really looking forward to this race, since it is basically in my backyard knowing most of the trails, the towns, the mountains and also be with the entire team together on the road again.

Never I have found a better place then to ride then in the Valais/Wallis. The options of technical & flowy trails are endless and the views breathtaking. Unfortunately our racing pace was also breathtaking. I had to deal with a cold/flu from the start on which made my days not easy at all. We pros always started like monkeys day by day. Every team wanted to go into the long single tracks first so that builded a dynamic like there were intermediate finish lines along the way.

The prologue Jaro and I finished in fifth place, the first day in second and on day two I hit the deck…. I hit my pedal on a flat single trail on a rock and I immediately flew over my handle bar. Not super man style, much much more like a meteorite. No sliding, impact only! I was so much in pain. Whole back, hips, hand and also headache. Somehow and also with big help from Jaro we still finished fifth, five minutes behind the winning team Vaude on that day. After it, it just went downhill. The following stage I could not ride the very steep uphill to Grächen any more, since that outside knee pain became too much. I ended up walking and I had small hopes for the next day. There I could rip off my number plate of the handle bar after 2h into the race. Luckily I found a nice single trail down to the valley and a shuttle from the organizer brought me up to Grächen. I still wanted to go to the finish in Zermatt but not in a car… Anyway we made the best out of it and took the train up to Gornergrad and rode our freeride bikes downtown Zermatt. Interestingly standing on the bike & walking is no problem, but as soon as I need to pedal the pain is back again. Oh well riding down is anyway more fun then uphill!
 

 
 
01.09.2014
Appends to race/event: 30.08.2014 // Nationalpark Marathon, Scuol/SUI
137km, 400m of climbing, 5.35h
First Place in sprint finish against Urs Huber

I love tight finishes especially when I can cross the line first and also after more then 5.30h racing time!

The weather was not great but also not as bad as it looks like on the pictures. Luckily it was not cold and also the rain soaked us through the skin. Me feeds got wet and cold here and there. Something I really don't like because then I some how loose the feeling for my pedal stroke.

Nothing too exciting happened until the monster climb the Chaschauna which is a wall after riding through Livigno. I lost the contact to Buchli and Huber towards the top but I knew that I am not under pressure being off the pace for around 15sec. The downhill on the other side is in my favor. Closing a gap in the downhill is for free without any extra energy spend. I am anyway always in energy saving mode until the last hour of a marathon race. It must be a head thing, but I just never feel like I have to race in the front unless there would be a long technical no passing zone.

The real show down was in Lavin one of the last climbs with about 20km to go. Last year I attacked through the town and rode solo to the finish. This year I just could not make up my mind. I actually wanted to hit it still on the flat before, then through town, then on the steepest part of the climb. At that point I was riding behind Buchli and I could see he was on the limit. When he passed the lead over to me I finally could make up my mind or it was just my instinct and I tried to brake away. Huber stayed on my wheel though. I tried hard in the next few climbs but not luck. He was sucking my wheel like a chewing gum. Before the last town in Fetan I pretty much stopped and told him off, so he also started to lead a little.

Now it was only the last downhill ahead of us. Unfortunately nothing technical only gravel roads and through the town over a long and super high bridge to the finish. Huber passed be before town inside line on a gravel corner. I did not mind too much since now I could follow him through the town with its tight corners. I knew my S-Works Renegade tires are better on the semi wet road and I have the better sprinting legs. I gave it all out of his slipstream over the bridge and finished the line a few bike length ahead of Huber. An awesome finish after five very unlucky races in a row.
 

 
 
25.08.2014
Appends to race/event: 23.08.2014 // Grand Raid, Valais/SUI
125km, 5000m of climbing, 6.05hrs
Second place, 8sec behind Urs Huber


 

 
 
18.08.2014
Appends to race/event: 17.08.2014 // Swiss Championships Marathon Eiger Bike, Grindelwald/SUI

88km, 3900m of climbing
DNF

I missed my connecting flight in Boston traveling back from Colorado, so that meant it extended my journey to 48hrs.

Swiss Champs were already on Saturday, so not much time to get rid of the jet lag plus getting things sorted at home after being on the road for three weeks.

When I made my race bike ready I put a new wheel set on, but did not check if the cassette was tighten up and it wasn't! It was a matter of time until it came completely loose during the race. This happened after one hour, when I was in the lead together with Huber and Buchli. At least it was on top of a mountain, so I could only freewheel down to the hotel... I normally never ever quit a race as long as I see the possibility to finish it, but I haven't had spare wheels somewhere on the course plus to find that special tool was impossible.

I hope at least I saved some energy for the next big race, the Grand-Raid on Saturday. A race I really want to win this year!
 

 
 
12.08.2014
Appends to race/event: 09.08.2014 // Leadville 100, Leadville/USA

167km, 3500m of climbing, 6.17h,
Second place, 18sec behind winner Todd Wells

I am stranded in Boston right now. I did not make my connection to Zürich even the pilot waited for me for an other 15min. Due that waiting time the plane had to fly a different route and used 1500l of extra kerosene... I know that because soigneur Christine and mechanic Bundi made the plane. The pilot invited Bundi into the cockpit. He even gave him a bottle of wine for me, since he felt bad not waiting any longer. Btw Christine & Bundi made the flight because they had not to wait for they're hand luggage which on my side got taken off when I boarded last into the plane from Denver to Boston.

Leadville is a super hight altitude race (3000-4000m) For to get used to it we stayed in Breckenridge for 1.5 weeks and the last one in Copper Mountain. I never stayed in a bigger villa then for that last week. Real America millionaire style and the rent was even very cheap.

Leadville does not have good accommodation especially for a big team as we are. Copper is 30minute drive away from Leadville. So on race morning 4.15am it was wake up time, breakfast rice with 100% choc powder and nutella, 5am ready in the car (well with me it is a little later then).
I normally don't warm up before a marathon race but Leadville is different. It is so cold at the start and even a neutralized downhill for the first 8minutes at around freezing temperatures. So I spin my legs on the rollers for to get warm from the inside out, then thermal jacket on and ready to go the the start line.

I felt really good in my training before and I was confident that I can finally win this race, but all those hopes blew off into the air when I lost a little bit of rear tire pressure due a side cut before Power Line. I was not 100% sure if I did loose air, but as soon as I hit my rim very hard and finally blew up the tire I knew that I have lost air prior and now winning or beating the course record will be more and less impossible. While I was bombing the fixed wheel with CO2, Rabon Franti arrived and gave me his wheel. Thanks a million time Franti, without that help I would not have finished second for sure!

I ended up chasing for almost 5hrs. I caught Alban Lakata who also suffered a flat tire so we could at least ride together up Columbine and a while back too. Alban did not have his best day and we unfortunately could not help each other out. After the second last feed I also took a wrong turn. I promise it is not easy to keep up the concentration in this thin air!

With 45min to go I suddenly got the information Todd is only 2min ahead and Hynek pulled the plug. Hynek was leading the race by 8min -to my position at some point- and now the thin air hit him hard. It was a real Hitchcock final. On the last 15min Todd came close and closer and I seriously gave everything what I had left in my tank and that after 6hrs.... I missed the win by 18secs. I only needed one more small climb, but with if, what and what ever you don't win races. I am very happy also for Todd and the whole team. As always we all worked so professional towards this big race but also with lots of fun and "entertainment". The best team ever and a big thank to everybody!

On the video link 1 you can check my special aero equipment from Specialized.

Bike wise I raced my hardtail Stumpjumper with Renegade Control (rear) and Renegade S-Works front.

Link 2 is the Cyclingnews race report
 

 
Link 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwdkWdUOcBM&feature=youtu.be
Link 2: http://www.cyclingnews.com/races/leadville-100-2014/results
 
 
23.07.2014
Appends to race/event: 20.07.2014 // Swiss Championships Cross Country, Lostord/SUI

8 laps, 1.34h
14th place, 4.30min off winner Nino Schurter

After marathon world champs I was more and less training "fit for fun", especially on my enduro exploring new trails and regions. I still did my gym, running and high rpm workouts though, but nothing really exhausting.

My hard tail is still in the bike bag from world champs three weeks ago and I wont unpack it until I arrive in USA for Leadville100. I was very excited to fine tune my Epic for my short visit to the cross country scene.

During the whole week leading up to the race it was super hot and humid in Switzerland, but unfortunately for Sunday's race the weather forecast was more then vague, and if the weather is vague you better have a spare set of wheels with Fast Track tires on it. Normally if it is dry I always race Renegade but 1.5h before the start I changed my wheels to the Fast Track setup. A setup you can never be wrong. Just such good overall tires!

It rained quite hard before the start but the sun dried out the course pretty quickly, but I tell you the bikes got pretty heavy with all the peanut butter mud sticking all over the bike. Glad I fine tuned it....

I had to start in fourth row that meant I was in a start crash, fought my way up to fourth place together with Lukas Flückiger, but with two laps to go I had a slow puncture. I tried to bomb it with a c02 (thanks to scott for helping out) but that did not work, so in the next tech zone I changed wheel.

It was a big petty! I was motivated and excited to do a xco race again and finishing it off with a good result, but top three was out of reach anyway!

Next stop Leadville100!
 
 
12.07.2014

Race around Mont Blanc, not quite, just a fun enduro ride for four days. Unfortunately we probably chosen the worst week of this summer. On the last day it even snowed.

It was sad to cut the route for one day short. We still rode around the mountain which we did not see once!

Thanks to Erik Kleinhans and Konny Looser for the great company!

As you can see on the pictures I was riding the Specialized Enduro. A few years ago I never thought I am going to ride a 15/16cm travel bike on a trip like this. The bike was climbing so well (around 2500m every day) and for the descends it felt like a lightweight downhill bike. Also all the rain and mud over all the four days did not make my suspension any sticky. For example I did not oil my Rock Shox Pike once!
 

 
 
02.07.2014
Appends to race/event: 29.06.2014 // World Championships Marathon, Pietermaritzburg/RSA

95km, 3000m of climbing, 4.19min racing time
Third place, 4.14min off Jaroslav Kulhavy

I always want to be better then the year before or in this case defending my world champ title!

The weeks and months before I had the perfect days every day for this one day! Also the course was just made for me, especially the last 25km with lots of single trails and hard climbs. I did not care that much on the build up before those 25km but from there on I knew every corner, every rock every percentage of the climbs!

At the end unfortunately it was not so important to know those last kms any more... Just after feed zone 4 at around km 30 there was a longer portage section on and off, very rocky with stairs. I hit my chain blade on a rock carrying my bike next to me. When I jumped on my bike I knew there is something very wrong. A noise I did not know before but it sounded like big trouble and then my chain was off the blade. A chainring tooth was completely bend. What to do now? I was looking for a small rock, but karma I did not find one after damaging my bike with one.... I kept on going a little in search for for a stone, but after trying to get one off the ground (was too big and solid in it) I tried it with my co2 bomb and foot which finally straightened it but there was still a brow which kept dropping the chain. that problem I solved it by rasping down and up the chain over the the brow.

The leading group by that time was gone by far and I restarted the race on 23rd place like 3.30 to 4min down. I definitely did not feel good at all from that moment onwards. In those moments you instantly loose the "tunnel" vision and you end up absorbing what is all around you: the legs, gears, temperature and what ever else comes into your senses. It is similar like on a hard training ride. I have experienced many of those situations in my carrier. I am a person who never gives up and holding onto the last bit of hope always!

My bad luck out there was a small problem compare to Burry who would have loved to be in this race too!!!

I did start catching a lot of riders but never any of the leading group which was very frustrating and gave me an indication how far I was off the leaders. Only during the last hour and a half when some riders payed the toll of the race length plus the fast beginning speed I managed to ride into third. Sure a very good performance but not result I wanted.

Jaro won this race with his endurance and raw power. Very happy for him and the team. He really had a difficult season so far. Also Anika took the title impressively on her new Specialized Era fully and Tereza in third. Four medals, four different bikes! Which bike brand can offer that??? A huge thanks also to our amazing team who offered us riders the very best environment to perform at this level!
 

 
 
19.06.2014
Appends to race/event: 15.06.2014 // European Championships Marathon, Ballyhoura/IRL

few pictures from the organizer and a video in link 1
 

 
Link 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_96-OyKV4E&feature=share&app=desk...
 
 
16.06.2014
Appends to race/event: 15.06.2014 // European Championships Marathon, Ballyhoura/IRL

93km, 2100meter of climbing, 3.41h racing time
First place, 43sec ahead of Jaroslav Kulhavy

My first trip to the green island. I was really looking forward to it, since two of my best friends are real Irish, so I had to go and make sure to see how it looks from where they come from. I still preferred it to make a short trip out of it tough, since I was the whole week on the road for Four Peaks plus Elsa Bike before. So I arrived Friday, rode the last 30km of the course on Saturday and then racing time on Sunday at 11am sharp!

It was a very unique marathon course with incredible long sections of single trails flowy and hand made from bikers to bikers. They were not technical, one line riding but the speed was difficult to control plus pretty bumpy. My back was really sore after the race. I was missing my full suspension Epic bike, but because I was racing my hardtail lately only, did not know the course before hand plus worlds in two weeks time will be a hard tail one, I have chosen to bring the front suspended hardtail Stumpjumper.

I knew my team mate Jaro will be my biggest competitor here on this power course with no big climbs. We two basically took off after 15min and extended our lead up to 6min! It was racing on the highest level. Always pushing hard in team effort. We know each other super well from winning the Cape-Epic. I am happy that there is a good amount of slipstream behind the big Czech boy!
I must admit I was pretty glad when we reached the last 30km of the course which I knew from pre riding. In between every single trail section we climbed up gravel roads again. Not long or steep but hard enough after 60km of racing in our legs. I checked out the climbs very well on Strava from my ride the day before and I knew the third last one will be the steepest and the second last the longest. Jaro was already struggling a little bit on the short climbs before so I gave it a go on the third last one wich must have been still 40min before the finish. I did not make up a lot of time but enough to extend my lead over the following few climbs and probably also in the single trails.

After the big disappointment of last years Euro Champs where I lost the win by dropping the chain 50m before the finish it was a super sweet win, also because I had to work hard for it!

What a Sunday for Specialized! Tereza won the women race plus Jaro second! Thanks to our very best team staff for making it happen!

After the price giving we headed half way to Dublin to the very great Behan family celebrating our double victory. It was a real Irish feast with lots of food & drinks and very best company on a lovely summer evening.
 

 
 
  
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