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02.03.2015
Appends to race/event: 01.03.2015 // Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge, Western Cape/RSA

55km, 2.15h, 1250m of climbing
Fourth Place, 2min behind winner Erik Kleinhans

My last race the Attakwas Extreme felt already a long time ago. I knew due my feeling in training I am in good conditions but during a short race like today where it is game on from the first minute on there is no mercy to play around first.

My February in Switzerland and the short visit to Israel passed very quickly. Enjoyed riding in the snow but also on nice dry roads down in the valley, on the indoor track, a few intervals on the indoor trainer, indoor track at the uci head quarter or backcountry skiing! Good variety!

I arrived in beautiful Stellenbosch this Tuesday. Great to meet all my friends and trained more and less easy every day. I have two weeks of quite hard training behind me and I felt to recover, especially with all the racing leading up the ABSA Cape-Epic as well.

The race unfolded very quickly today. Erik Kleinhans attacked after 10min and stayed clear with Johann Rabie on his wheel. It was the plan that he hits it hard at the beginning, then Nico Bell and myself will just sit down and leave the chasing up to the other competitors. (Erik & Nico riding Specialized RSA and will be Jaroslav’s and my back up for ABSA Cape-Epic). 10km before the finish Nico and I ended up riding by ourself for the last podium spot which shinned for Nico.

Very happy with my current shape two weeks before the big one!
 
 
10.02.2015

I love to spice up my routine and when I got invited to Israel for to promote the Israel Epic -a three day stage race north Israel- I was excited about it. Not often the official tourism is behind it such a visit. Business flights, special airport corridor, my personal driver etc. but way more important the people were so friendly plus I learn so much about Israel, its citizen and problems.

Two nights I spend in Tel Aviv. The vibe reminded me about Cape Town, except there is no table mountain, but on the other hand I have seen only one police car within two days and yes there are mosques and minarets. Did you know 20% of the population in Israel are Arabs completely tolerated and accepted?

The Epic Israel is organized by Idit and Gal two avid mountain bikers who have been racing all over the world picking up the best ideas for organizing they're own race. I am very happy to see how well the race develops due the right people behind working all professional plus the most important so many riders are hooked up riding the bike becomes such a passion in life.

For more infos check the links below.


 

 
Link 1: http://www.epicisrael.org.il/en
Link 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUwgB0EbK5Y&list=UUaV-w1lKKBiDqhK...
 
 
19.01.2015
Appends to race/event: 17.01.2015 // Fairview Attakwas Extreme, Outdshoorn/RSA

121km, 2600m of climbing, 4.52hrs
First Place, 4.25min ahead of Stefan Sahm

I started with my training seriously for the new season since I am here in South Africa mid December. I stayed quite fit during my off season. I believe it is important not to lose too much fitness so I don't have to grind myself for weeks until the quality training hits in.

Racing out of training is always hard especially when it is the first race of the season in January and on top of it it is the Attakwas Extreme, probably the hardest one day race in South Africa. If you make it through without mechanicals it is already a huge bonus too! My bonus this year was that the competition was not as good as last year plus I know I have the very best bike and tires (Renegade Control)! We rode very slow the first two hours where one year ago we never looked back that year I came out so cooked off the Attakwas Valley. So I was not unhappy to safe some energy at the beginning but the time record obviously was out of reach. There was even a bonus of zar100’000.- for the first guy finishing below 4.30h but that is a mission (almost) impossible. Ok never say impossible…
It seems it is almost a mind game entering the Attakwas valley after 2hrs into the race. More and less everyone rides his own speed, conserving energy or what is left. Hardly no group riding anyway since it is slow and rough going. I really believe with my S-Works Epic Brain suspension technology I have a big bonus, especially I come out of it more recovered. The only survivors were Gert Heyns and Stefan Sahm. Gert did not look good any more and got dropped at the beginning of the never ending gravel roads towards the finish near the sea. Also Stefan ran out of power later so it was a long time trial to the finish. I was surprised that my finisher time was also my new personal record since we went so slow for the first 2hrs. The last year’s all time record (4.47h) from Huber is still untouched tough.

Hats off to every finisher or tried to finish or just got stuck out there and had at least a great story to tell afterwards!
 

 
 
12.11.2014
Appends to race/event: 07.11.2014 - 09.11.2014 // Wines2Whales, Western Cape/RSA

Friday: 74km, 1500m of climbing, 3.08h
First Place, 7min ahead of Team Kargo

Saturday: 68km, 1200m of climbing, 2.35h
First Place, 3min ahead of Team Kargo

Sunday: 76km, 1200m of climbing, 2.52h
Second Place, few seconds behind Team Kargo

This year I was racing it and not only taking part of this amazing organized trail-wonder stage race. songo.info is the official charity of w2w and offers us a great platform to raise money and awareness.
We sold my songo.info entry since my original paying partner had to go for a business trip, so I jumped into Konny Looser's free spot. Great decision since I could ride with race speed through the flowy trails plus Konny is a fun Swissie which I know since a long time. The perfect combo and i loved it! But was so much more about racing though! I really enjoyed the company of the whole songo crew and guest riders over the three days. Lots of laughing, eating and drinking and thanks god to all the hours in the saddle next to it, it kept us balanced...

The first 2 days Konny and I "dominated" the trails and we won with a good margin, the last one we took it more conservatively but I must admit, it would have been very very hard to break away (if even possible) of the very strong Kargo boys. We raced on a high level or thats how it felt to me.

Thanks to every one who joined and supported us over those days of riding and also to Stillwaters the organization who puts this amazing race together and allows us to be the official charity.
 

 
 
11.10.2014
Appends to race/event: 10.10.2014 - 12.10.2014 // Roc d'Azur, Fréjus/FRA

Sunday Cross Country
55km, 1500m of climbing, 2.12h
6th Plance, 2.12mn off winner Jordan Sarrou

Every year the level and speed increases so much here at Roc. I am sure with my Friday and todays performance I would have won a few years ago (almost) easily. Most of the riders especially the Frenchies going for it. Well me too but it is more and less trying.... Not only heart & head have to be into it, also the whole training and then you still need a super day. Oh well the time of easy winning is over. I still remember my first win here in 2005, when we went for a whole day of mini motocross riding & drinking above Monaco. The next day I won the race (almost) easy.

Today we started super fast again and held the pace all the way until the finish. As in previous years I was not strong enough to race over the firs steep climb with the leaders. I found myself in the second group racing for 4th or 5th place. At the end I sprinted against Carabin from Belgium and this time I lost it.

It feels good to go into the off season with two solid results. Mid December I am still racing Wines2Whales -a three day stage race in South Africa- with Konny Looser.



Friday Marathon
82km, 2270m of climbing, 3.39h
Second Place, 4.29min off winner Maxime Marotte


Since the Swiss Epic my racing life was very quite. My knee was still hurting on and off. Luckily I could enjoy my Enduro bike a little bit. Lots of the time I had to stop doing some stretching, coffee stops or taking gondolas. Riding downhill was no problem and thats the most fun with such a cool bike as the Enduro is.

Unfortunately I had to cancel the Iron Bike Einsiedeln and Extreme sur Loue in France. I wish it would have rained at those races (sorry my egoism :-) but it was all super sunny and warm. Well at home I made the best out of it and I did those Enduro rides.

So I had no idea how my knee and fitness will cope here at the Roc d'Azur Marathon. I knew there is no warm up for the first few kilometers. We are racing completely flat out from the gun on, more and less until the end. Or at least that how it felt to me. Marotte was lead out by his team mate Tempier and we never seen Marotte until the finish line any more. I was in the first chasing group with Huber, Fanger, Paulissen and Porro. We all did our part of leading but this year I did not try to break away over the last climbs before the long flat stretch to the finish. I rather saved my energy for a good attack before a technical trail along the beach. It worked out perfectly and only Fanger could hang on. We two worked together until the airport field where the finish line awaited us. I put all my energy together for the last time and sprinted over the line for second. A place I was really pleased with, after a month of dealing with my injury.

The sea is still very warm here and I was a happy beach boy afterwards, although I probably look more pro on the bike though....
 

 
 
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
 
 
  
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