to get back into racing after a relatively long time out, but it was a balance and sacrifice I’m happy to make given my goals in January. So it was with tired legs I started the GVA trophy race in Essen. It was also the first time I’ve ever done this race which made the race more interesting for me. However as it was basically underwater I’m still not sure what Essen really looks like. Parts of the lap, well certainly the conditions, reminded me of Neil last year and of course that brought back some good memories.

Ms. Vos was on the start and was certainly the favourite and she didn’t let the small but perfectly formed crowd down. She destroyed it basically, while I made every mistake possible in one race. I guess that was to be expected after not touching my cross bikes for so long. The positive side of it was that as the race when on, I kind of got back into the swing of things. I shut things down on the last lap as it was a pretty tough course and it was better to settle for 4th place and keep the tank fullfor the World Cup the following day.

An unexpected bonus from what was a very below average ride as taking the lead in the GVA overall. There are still 4 rounds to go and I think there will be some big changes in the rankings. Riders who are down the rankings at the minute can soon jump up with a few good results, so let’s not think about that just yet.

After a night staying in the Casino in Namen we were up and ready for the race. We avoided the temptation to join the Belgian Poker Championships that was going on and instead went for a ‘meal of champions’ at the local Chinese restaurant. It turned out to be great pre-race fuel as I was feeling good the morning of the race.

The World Cup series has been going well so far. A 5th and 6th place were pretty good results, and the 8th place in Tabor taught me a lot of lessons. So I was hoping to finish in the top 6 on what was like a little mountain bike course. Some very fun down’s and steep up’s make sure both your legs and brain were working 100% with heavy snow at the start just added an extra twist.

I started well by taking the lead off the start. Vos moved in front of me and made a little mistake (Which I’ll let her off as it’s her first one in about 5 years) which put me off the front a little. But I was in 3rd spot coming through the pit on the first lap and all seemed well. During the 2nd and 3rd lap I was doing battle with Compton for 3rd place. I got ahead when she decided to check out what the race looked like from the other side of the barriers, but she was quickly up and past me again. Then I got a flat rear…kind of podium race over right there and then. I also lost a lot of my lead over the riders behind. I think having a rider in sight also gave them an extra kick and on the last lap Sanne Cant passed me. I finished 5th, pretty empty but happy. A solid ride and I know my legs will be getting better and better now.

This result put me in 5th in the overall classification of the World Cup, but again, there is a very long way to go as the 3 remaining rounds could dramatically change things.

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