Slovenia is an interesting country. Maribor, where our race was held, is in the North east corner. It’s a fairly typical European town and has lots of rolling hills dotted with church steeples. Compared to Switzerland it seems more natural, less manicured and there are way more trees, softwood and hardwood. In 2.5 hrs you can cross the country and hit the Adriatic Sea and the border with Croatia. Food is cheap, but hotels, laundry etc are pricy.
The finals course proved to be very tough. The laps were only 4.5km or so, but the trails were demanding. There were a lot of singletrack climbs that were rooty or turned upwards sharply. Sandra and I got to line up side by side being numbers 24 and 25. The start was pretty good and soon enough I was able to pick my way up to the front. About mid climb however me and another girl interlocked wheels and I was brought to a standstill. After separating I got going again, but someone told me my quick release was open so I had to get off again. It was frustrating as I knew I needed to be near the front before the woods, but now had to repass a bunch of girls. I wasn’t able to work my way up to where I was, but low 20’s or high teens.
We entered the woods and descended down a mesh of roots.the traffic wasn’t bad on the descents, but as soon as we entered the tricky climbs mistakes started to happen and I could see the girls I wanted to be racing pulling away on the front. By the end of that lap I moved into 14th or so and was able to pick off a bunch of fast girls on the next open climb. From there on it was picking people off 1x1 where I could. By lap 3 Rosara, Ren, Petra and myself started riding together. I felt stronger on the climbs, but they were better at the transitions keeping us together for nearly 3 laps. When Ren decided to go it was decisive and she opened a large gap. On Lap 5, after attacking each other for lead position several times, Rosara and Petra had more in the tank and pulled away from me. Elisbeth Osl, who had been slowly closing on us from behind, also picked me off for 9th. I didn’t have a huge fade last lap, just more than the other girls. It was a good race and my first top 10 at a World cup…yeah Prize money! It definitely would have been nice to hold 6th which was the best position I had gained that day, but it was a good fight for 6-10 place.
Sandra had a tough day .The legs just didn’t want to go for her, but she’s pumped for another wicked WC season next year. Wendy also had a tough day doubling flatting while on her way to a 20 something placing.