Race Report - UEC European Cup Rounds 1-2

UEC European Cup Rounds 1-2 / 24-25 March 2018 / Verona, Italy

Saya

Class: Elite Women

Result: Rd 1: 8th, Rd 2: 1st

Kai

Class: Elite Men

Result: Rd 1: 9th, Rd 2: 2nd

Our first International race for the 2018 season! We flew out of Brisbane airport on Sunday March 18, and made our way to Verona, Italy for the opening rounds of the European Cup. It was an exciting trip for the pair of us, being our first time in Italy, and also our first time racing a European Cup round. The track, and the whole facility was top quality, and it was a big weekend of racing with over 900 entries altogether. It was an important race for Saya and I being a World Championships qualifier event, and the racing wasn’t going to be easy.

Saya:

Day 1

The race day was challenging, both the racing and trying to keep warm before each lap when weather conditions were in the single digits. I had a few fast girls in my races so there was no slacking off at any point in the race. I finished with 1st, 2nd, 1st in qualifying and I qualified 1st for my semi final. I had another clean lap and finished 1st. I was first qualifier for the final! It was a challenge to put aside the fact I was racing idols and Olympians, but over the weekend I learnt not to look left and right; and just to look straight ahead.

I had lane 1 and I had a good gate but I was quickly shut down by Laura Smulders from the outside. Coming out of the first turn in 3rd place, I was riding hard to keep that podium position. But on the very tight and technical third straight, I over jumped the first jump which made me completely lose control of my bike and I was down on the ground with a popped tyre in just a flash.

Disappointed that I crashed but I was still so happy about my day and how much fun I was having racing these fast girls. 8th place for day 1, and it was time to rest up and get ready for day 2.

Day 2

I woke up with a very sore shoulder from crashing in the final in Round 1. I was unable to lift it with my own strength and it seemed like I damaged the bicep tendon which was pinching every time I tried to move my arm. I was so unsure about if I was going to be able to ride, as it hurt when I tried to ride on flat ground.

After getting it strapped up and massaged a little bit, I was really lucky that it did not hurt while riding

So it was time to get it underway.

I had 3rd pick for the semi final after getting 2nd, 1st, 2nd in my motos and this gate was when I finally got a good start after struggling with it all day. I had a clean lap and finished 1st.

Out of lane 2 for the final, I got out really well and I nailed the first two jumps which put me in the lead! I had to really work hard to keep my position because I knew Laura would be hunting me down from every angle. I had a perfect run and I won!

Couldn’t be happier with my performance and results from over the weekend and especially being able to race the way I did with an injured shoulder. Next stop Paris!

Kai:

I had a great week leading into this event. We got some good track time on Tuesday and Wednesday, and I felt very confident for the weekend of racing. Official practice was chaos with all 99 riders in Elite Men hitting the track at the same time, but I avoided all the carnage before lining up on the gate for racing.

In day 1, I had a solid run through the motos with 1st, 1st, 1st, and a 1st in the 1/8 Final. A 2nd in the 1/4 Final behind Russia’s Evgeny Komarov got me 3rd pick for the semi final.

I had a solid start, but came together with GB’s Kyle Evans down the start hill, sending me sideways and losing my momentum. I got swallowed down the first straight, and was in 5th into the first corner. I flew through the second straight but Damien Godet blocked my line around the second corner, and I lost all of my speed. I ended the race in 5th.

Normally I’d walk away with a 5th in the semi very angry, but there wasn’t a whole lot that I could’ve done better. I accepted the race and moved my sights to a better day on Sunday.

Again, I felt awesome on Sunday. 1st, 1st, 1st in the motos, and then 2nd, 2nd, 2nd in my 1/8, 1/4 and semi final!

I nailed my gate in the final but overshot the first jump, entering the first corner in 3rd. Carlos Ramirez from Colombia snuck in through the inside to push me back to 4th, but I noticed him and Komarov battling into the second straight, and I knew something would happen. I aligned myself out of the way on the right hand side, and I blew past them as they came together and slowed down through the straight. I held out the rest of the pack from here to finish with a 2nd.

It felt great to race to my full capabilities, and to come away with a solid result that reflected on the way that I was riding. I have now achieved the necessary results to gain eligibility for selection to the World Championships! More great racing to come.

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