La Bresse World Cup Recap

World Cup racing is savage. No matter where you are in the field it’s a fight – sometimes literally. Not that I can account for racing anywhere near the front end of an elite men’s WC, I’ve just watched them and been beaten by them. Albstadt and La Bresse marked my twentieth and twenty-first WC races. I’ve raced multiples as a junior, under-23 and now elite; the races have only gotten harder and somehow that continues to lure you in more.

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There’s always a lure to come back and conquer when races don’t go well. The racing is crazy at the back of the field. Apart from from the speed there are bikes, fists, feet and people flying all the over the place.

Start

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

A WC start goes something like this: gun goes off, front guys start, back guys wait about 5 sec to even clip in, 150 guys are sprinting around you, one guy brakes and a chain reaction begins and someone usually crashes, everyone come almost to a hault swerving around a wrecked person or stand-still, guys are sprinting into or over you, some guy always goes for a stupid pass and catches his bar in the fencing and eats $hit, hopefully you swerve around him, then comes the bottleneck at the first single-track. Now you’re walking, running if you’re lucky, bikes are above rider’s heads to tomahawk past everyone else, then you get in a pushing battle with some other racer (yes, aggression in spandex), and now you get back on your bike and start riding again. That’s only the first 5 minutes.

Evan Guthrie (Norco Factory Team)

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

If you’re like me, you get past by 125 lbs dudes floating up the climbs – only to then catch them on the descent and get held up. It’s ends up being an uphill battle both ways. Sometimes you get a clear trail for a bit and ride your rhythm, which is hopefully at your potential. Usually there’s 5-10 guys just up the road to chase and the same amount just behind chasing you down. Every inch is fought for in these races. In North America someone can crash, flat, mechanical, and dab all over and usually still be in the race. In Europe or at a WC you can be passed by 4 guys by simply dabbing. A flat tire can mean not finishing the lead lap. A chain break or a start crash, well I can tell you all about that.

Bouchard beats Vogel for 20th

Congrats to Canadian Leandre Bouchard for 20th

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

The first finish of the day is making it through the start loop unscathed with a working bike. There isn’t any friendliness in the back of the field to other races, unless maybe you’re country mates or proper buds. I’ll always give riders the respect, as we’re chasing the same thing, but as soon as someone gets out of line and tries to get physical I’m confident my clydesdale weight and size will only backfire their plans.

At Albstadt I had the unique opportunity to, once again, be DFL after only 100 M when my chain broke. Whatever it was I was ready to take on the ‘how many people can I pass game’ again. I hate quitting and will do everything possible in a race to continue. This was just a test of that. It was a 400 M run to the pits while being cheered on by fans with pretzels in their hands (which I was jealous of). I was reminded with this scenario that the bike community is amazing. People from Scott/3Rox, the Canadian National Team, and Aaron Schooler (my personal helper for the day) all came to help once I ran into the pits. I set a new personal passing record of 53 riders. $hit happens sometimes and you just have to make the best of it. I really wanted to workup the appetite for my post-race schnitzel and Milka bar.

Bike racing is tough. Winning the personal battles for me means just as much on days like that.

Evan Guthrie (Norco Factory Team)

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

In La Bresse I just needed to get past 250 M without issues and that was a win. That happened. The legs didn’t show up this day but with one of the best courses to date. This course had people in, on, and around every nook and cranny yelling and screaming. It was only natural to to get buck wild on the descents with chains saws revving (Long live Chainsaw) and bells ringing. Make sure to check out the women’s race – it was incredible to watch those ladies throw down. The Frenchman – Julian Absalon – schooled the men’s field to win on home soil.

All smiles, Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing XC) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna Pro Team)

Both Emily (L) and Catharine (R) had amazing races to finish 3rd and 2nd.

Photo: Rob Jones – www.canadiancyclist.com

Now I’m back in Horseshoe Valley, Ontario for the nest two weeks for some Canada Cup races. More updates to follow.

 

Photo essay from the trip:

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