It’s not often that you hear of a mountain bike marathon cancelled because of the weather – unlike the soft roadies in the Giro d’Italia (pah, snow – we’ve had plenty of that), the decision to stop a stage before it starts is never taken lightly. Unfortunately, an epic amount of rain fell on Saturday evening and into Sunday morning – I thought that the predictions of 50-60mm overnight were pure hyperbole, but I was wrong!
Sunday morning dawned cold and wet, and I wasn’t alone in watching the rain fall steadily out of the window of the hotel breakfast room; I had team bulls for company there! Being foolhardy Brits, Matt and I assumed that the stage would be on, and since everyone else would probably turn up, we should too. Suitably suited and booted (waterproof shorts being de rigeur for these things it seems), we headed down to the start area at ten minutes before the start, expecting it to be rammed. Nope, there was hardly a soul around – hmm, serious drop-out rate for a bit of rain. Then it dawned on us, and a conversation with the Kona team riders confirmed it, the stage was cancelled.
I discovered later that landslips had closed several roads around Schladming, and that most of central Europe was on high alert for severe flooding. In fact, an unfortunate soul had been swept away by the flood waters whilst clearing a road near Salzburg, and the south German town of Rosenheim was underwater. The organisers took what must have been a very tough decision, and made the right call – the trails we were supposed to have been riding had been turned into raging torrents, and there was no way they could have guaranteed the safety of the competitors.
The neutralised stage resulted in a slight sombre prize presentation, seeing Kristian Hynek crowned winner again, shortly followed by Alban Lakata and Jiri Novak, all of whom would no doubt have had a battle royale on the final stage. Sally Bigham made it three from three in the AlpenTour, once again an imperious victory over her nearest competitors Milena Landtwing and Kristin Aamodt.
In the absence of a stage to ride, Matt and I took our tired legs our for a bashing over the hills around Rohrmoos, still in the pouring rain. When you can do 10-minute long hill reps, no matter how tired you are, you should! A quality recovery Schwarzwalde kirsch torte and a coffee in a hotel bar made it all worthwhile.
So, it’s over for another year. A fantastic event, with excellent mountain riding, a world-class field, and a really good organisation. All that was missing was the weather – we definitely earned some brownie points for next year, when it’s bound to be dry and dusty!