Firstly, I will have to up-speed on the events of stage 2 (yesterdays stage from Imst to Nauders) Stu and I were otherwise occupied and failed to log a full report.
Stage 2 started in Imst, in the rain and the rain continued for the entire stage… Stu and I rode well (to clarify “well”: there was a lot of team assistance on the hills, I think Mike will have to look into reinforced pockets for team racing events) to around the 60km point (stage 2 was 76km in total), then a muddy descent thwarted our aspirations for a top 10 placing in the mixed field. I got so much mud in my eye I couldn’t open it and despite an entire water bottle and several attempts by the Rescue Crew that Euro mud was stuck!.. I was ambulanced to the closest hospital (50 minutes from Nauders) and my eye was flushed under local anaesethetic .. I was advised to travel by train to Innsbruck to see a proper eye guy.. sigh!!. I finally made it back to Nauders by 1900 and Team mate Stu had pizza and Radlers waiting. Needless to say I didn’t catch the train to Innsbruck and this morning my eye was pretty puffy but I could see so kit on!!
Today (stage 3) was the “queen stage” of the event.. 100km from Nauders to Naturns with 3452hm… hectic!. We started in the rain at 0800 in Nauders (a beautiful 14C) and headed up up up through the narrow streets of the lovely ski town, then criss crossing under the skinlift to max out around 1700hm at around the 25km point (Bruggeraim). The view was amazing (or so Stu tells me).. The rest of the stage is a bit of a blurr but I do recall several unexpected sections of very sweet single track linking the gravel climbs and the fast road descents.
In typical Euro fashion there were many levels of descending aptitude on course from the rider that makes me look and feel like a pro downhiller to the rider that makes me feel like granny on her zimmer frame. I never profess to being a great descender and the descents today scared me a lot.. he most marked was the final 10km. In the closing 20km we climbed from around 700m to 1600m (10km) and then we we are really wrecked we were directed onto a crazy descent that took us back down to 700m in the space of 7-8km.. it was one of those ‘hang on a hope’ descents that become problematic if you lose your nerve and hesitate… just shut your eyes and point your bike downhill.
For any riders that think this is a road race I challenge you to this event.. in addition, this year there is a special category for the ‘enduro’ rider with a times ‘enduro’ section on each stage…
Stu and I survived and finished 7th in the mixed category.
Credit to the womens team of Barbara Mayer and Silke Schrattenecker (Nakita Powermums) that finished second today just seconds behind us and huge credit to Sally Bingham and Ben Thomas (Topeak Ergon Racing) who finished in a time of 5:16 further extending their lead in the mixed GC.
In the mens category the German Centurion Vaude 1 team of Markus Kaufman and Joohen Kab took the win (4h24m).
Full results can be accessed on Datasport