A Russian upset the Italian train and a certain Norwegian legend added another title to her already huge palmares. European Championships was a scorcher both in terms of speed and temperatures!
Alexey Medvedev and Gunn Rita Dahle are the new European Champions putting themselves into history books, winning a jersey they can now proudly wear for the next 12 months and gaining stripes they can wear forever.
Spilimbergo’s sleepy cobbled streets. Photo Tiliment Bike Marathon
This year’s continental championships was hosted by Tiliment Bike Marathon in Spilimbergo Italy. The course here is a crazy mix with the first 40 kilometre running on fast gravel road which meant the front of the men’s race stayed together with 30 to 40 men still in contention. The real race began on the Praforte climb which is a steep rocky singletrack climb lasting about 13 minutes, on an average gradient of 12% but with pitches much steeper Alban Lakata set an average power of a whopping 391 watts but still lost 40 seconds to some of the light weight Italians.
Approaching the Monta Pala which was the major climb on the route a compact group had formed including World Champion Alban Lakata and the 2017 European Champion Tiago Ferreira. On this climb the solo attack of Russian Alexey Medvedev began. Hans Becking who went on to finish top 10 set an average power of 319 watts for the 40 minute climb rising 700 metres.
Arianne and Maja at pace. Photo Tiliment Bike Marathon
Alexey Medvedev used his advantage built on the climb to safely negotiate the tricky mountain descent and ride a solo timetrial across the flat final 15 kilometres to the finish line. Behind by 1 minute 35 seconds the Italian Samuel Porro took silver and Fabian Rabensteiner bronze. In 4th was former road pro Riccardo Chiarini (3 minutes gap and 11 seconds from the winner). Urs Huber completed the top 5 (gap 5 minutes 14) and in 6th was Alban Lakata. Two more Italian’s finished in the top 10 with Daniele Mensi in 8th and Juro Ragnoli in 10th.
In the women’s Gunn Rita Dahle attacked and could only be followed by cross country specialist Maja Wloszczowska. Dahle used her experience to break Maja’s hold and build a sufficient advantage to take victory. Maja finished a short 24 seconds behind for the silver medal and Swiss rider Ariane Luthi took bronze. Jessica Pellizzaro in 7th and Mara Cristina Nisi in 10th completed a good day for the Italians.
Gunn Rita Dahle on route to another title. Photo Tiliment Bike Marathon
One thing highlighted to me this weekend is how much travelling alone sucks! Thursday and Friday I was bunked up on my own, I was in Italy but boredom set in and positivity sunk. In comparison Saturday and Sunday were great, the other Brit’s arrived and we socialised over an ice cream or 3. We had a laugh and I was motivated for racing some great trails in the beautiful mountains.
This year had to be the most competitive and complete field of any European Championships I’ve raced. I mixed it up with many top teams from start till finish. Over the line I was 37th which isn’t my best result at Euro’s but is my most satisfying. The heat got to me with 20 kilometres to go so I faded from top 30 but I’m happy and had more fun out there today than I’ve had at any bike race in a long time. The course has to be one of the toughest out there, not only are the climbs tough, and the competition strong but you get no recovery on the descents. There are a lot of trails on the course, either rocky or often cobbled, they are rough, I was begging for the descent off the mountain to finish, my hands were like claws! Massive thanks to Mountainbike Team Texpa-Simplon who looked after me today with bottles, the support made a huge difference. The last few weeks things began to click in training after a difficult winter, I’m looking forward to jumping back into another big block of training back at home and seeing what fitness can be achieved before my next important races.
Looking forward to more weekends like this with friends during the rest of the year. This year’s race crowned European Champions but also saw a thousand others take on either the full marathon or the half distance, you and your friends should be some of those people travelling to Spilimbergo next year.
Hungry after a tough race. Photo Tiliment Bike Marathon
Women’s podium. Photo Tiliment Bike Marathon