Since I´m in U23 category I always started my season in Spain or Portugal what has worked out well so far, every time. I decided to plan such a trip again quite early in winter with my team mate Luca Schwarzbauer. When we checked UCI calendar it was clear for us to go to Banyoles near Girona but finding an accommodation turned out to be quite difficult. After six or seven requests we finally got a nice old house near the city which fulfilled pretty much of our demands - one of the most important ones is to have a good opportunity for cooking our own food.
A few weeks before the trip everything was organized, my father would do the support and Clarissa Mai, U23 girl from RadLink Quadrat Team wanted to join us as well. We arrived well on Thursday afternoon and went for a little spin on the track, which we thought fitted us good. The first climb was quite consistent, and the following descent was only short and followed by another long climb through the terraces of an olive plantation. After that there was a little more difficult downhill and short steep uphill - one of those was a rock garden which we decided not to ride but run such as most other riders did.
For me that weekend was not only about racing but as well very hard training. Including the competition, I had almost ten hours on the bike in those three days. It was clear that my legs wouldn´t bring perfect performance on Sunday. But the trip was planned as a preparation for the World Cup in Stellenbosch and I know that being a good athlete is also about seeing what comes further in the future and not only thinking about the next days. So, I just had to absolve my training, then ignore my tiered legs during the race, ignore the fact that it´s my first race of the season and other riders already got their season started and stay strong mentally – easier said than done…
On Sunday I mentally felt very fit and had a good start but after the start loop I had to accept that I couldn´t keep up with the groups over and I was losing a few positions every lap. That is when mindset becomes important. For me, that point was when I went into the
last lap. I already had lost almost 15 positions and was somewhere behind the top20. But then I saw that the gap to the group in front of me was not getting bigger anymore and I was even able to get in front of my group. My legs suddenly felt better, and I was able to close the gap to this group with positions 19 to 23 up to ten meters on that first climb of the lap. In the first descent I cached up with them and on the following climb I could finally play my consistent climbing skills. I passed one rider after every switchback and was in the front of that group very fast. At the end of the uphill I could get rid of them and chase the next rider who I could also pass before the finish line.
In the end I finished 18th, which doesn´t sound so extraordinary but I was very satisfied after the race and for me it was proven that I worked good during winter. With that feeling it wasn´t to hard to do the final training sessions back in Freiburg. To prepare for the heat in SA Luca and I did that on the treadmill in the Olympic training centre in Freiburg. We arrived here on Saturday and it turned out that it was very helpful to already be a little bit adapted to sweating that much during the training.
Anyway, the summer conditions here feel so good and I am excited to go into the World Cup season at such a nice place. I already did some laps on the course and I´m enjoying it a lot. It´s super smooth and has a similar character as the track in Banyoles. So, I feel well prepared and I´m looking forward to get on the starting line with my best World Cup plate so far: number 3.