With a wet week leading up to the race, Sunday 15th of June saw riders racing in the sunshine in Ballyhoura, Ireland, for the 2014 European XCM Championships. Despite a busy weekend of racing, with the Alpentour also taking place in Austria, a star studded field was in Ireland for much of the preceeding week to practice on the course ahead of race day. With riders like Christoph Sauser, Jaroslav Kulhavy, Jenny Fay, the whole of Team Bulls, Krsitian Hynek, Sally Bigham, Alban Lakata and even more current or previous Olympic, World and National Champions – the race would be hot. The men started first, and fairly promptly the Specialized riders of Sauser and Kulhavy were away early on, and had a 40 second lead over the chasers by the second feed zone. A flat tyre had one of the race favourites, Alban Lakata, missing from the front group of chasing riders, which held Bohme, Huber, Hynek, Platt, Dietsch and other top XCM contenders. With the women starting 45 minutes after the men, and on a shortened course (which is standard for many UCI marathon races) riders were seeking shade before being gridded. The women’s start was fast, with a selection of seven riders hitting it early on. A group had formed by the first feed zone – this included Jenny Fay, Jennifer Stenerhag,Borghild Lovset, Kollman and Sally Bigham, despite having some troubles off the line. She soon made amends to rejoin the front of the race. Sauser and Kulhavy continued to push their lead, with over 3 minutes on their chasers by feed zone 4. Hynek and other riders were chasing behind, but couldn’t shut their lead down. Christoph Sauser left his team mate behind in the finale, finishing alone about half a minute ahead of Kulhavy. Christoph Soukup rounded out the men’s podium, over 5 minutes off the pace. In the women’s race, Tereza Hurikova maintained a lead she gained towards the end of the race – although not the whole 2 minutes. She won 30seconds ahead of Sally Bigham, with Borghild Lovset another 2 minutes behind. Full results can be found on the race website.
Thanks to the race promoter for the use of their images.