4 Islands MTB Stage Race Croatia Krk – Rab – Cres – Losinj

Landed in Vienna on the international airport on Monday evening, packed all my stuff for the next day, picked up my teammate in Vienna on Tuesday morning, we drove all the way down to the island Krk in Croatia where we started into the race on Wednesday morning. Okay these last 3 days were super crazy – Reunion, Paris, Vienna, Croatia. I was really looking forward to the first stage on my bike to get a little bit of resting haha. 

We knew this race already from 2016, where we had great experiences, ups and downs in the race and we definitely wanted to make it better this year. There were two more teams from our club, the nora racing team. The internal challenge was on. Markus and I started into the race very strong, without any technicals or problems with the bikes, just awesome riding. Only a few kilometer before the finish line the other team passed us, we rode together and finished the stage on the 10th place. First day and already in the top 10 was a solid start into the stagerace.

Afterwards we packed our stuff and drove to the next island, island Rab. We arrived there in the late afternoon, cleaned our bikes, shaked out our legs and prepared everything for day 2. Everything was nice, but then we got a call that there is too much wind for the ferry boats to let us race here on the next day, so they decided to do the same stage like on day one but into the other direction. It was really hectic for us, because there were no ferries going back to Krk on this day. On the next day in the morning we had to get up very early, getting back to island Krk. We made all this in time, but we were not focused enough to perform on this stage two. We only finished on the 25th place which means that we were dropped out of the top 10 in the overall ranking. 

On the third day was the longest and toughest stage, the kings stage on island Cres. We know all the stages from the year before and this one was definitely our favourite one. With this knowledge and the idea to get back into the top 10 in the overall ranking we pushed it all out to catch some places back. There is also a little bit of luck when you are stage racing and we were definitely lucky because also on this stage we havent had any problems with punctures or technical failure on our bikes. After a very strong and fast stage for us we finished 8th place of the day, that means we jumped to the front on place 12 in the overall ranking.

Super stoked about how the race went on we started into the 4th and last stage on the beautiful island of Mali Losinj. Is was only a short stage but packed with lots of technical downhill and heart breaking uphills. All the teams suffered fro m the last three days, we also felt the prior kilometers in our legs but found some energy somewhere. We finished this race again without technical problems on the 14th place and the even more amazing news was the 9th place in the overall ranking.A top 10 result was exactly what we came here for and it was amazing to reach it this year.

 

 

Xterra La Reunion

What a great island was my thinking when I got this invitation letter from the guys from Xterra La Reunion. The only problem was, that there was this MTB stage race in croatia only 3 days after the Xterra where we signed up in a team of two. Anyway, I asked my teammate who was supposed to race this stage race with me if its okay if I do this Xterra only 3 days before. First he was laughing, but then he said, you are young, but if you have tired legs in this MTB race afterwards its your problem. Then he said what are you waiting for, you are still young and this is a great chance to race a great race.

I signed up, managed to get all the flights sorted and went to the south again. After this 11 hours flight I was in paradise, beautiful beaches, amazing mountains, very nice people and the best homestay ever. I couldnt believe it, I was here with another athlete from Austria, together we trained and enjoyed the life here.

The sea was cristal clear, and the single trails were nice to ride, all you need for a Xterra race. The week passed by very fast, and suddenly it was sunday morning race start. We ran into the water, had to swim two laps of each 750 meter. The bike course started relaxed, it was about 4km on the flat asphalt before reaching a big and long climb. I love climbing and I caught up with the guys quickly. My hardtail was really nice on the uphills, but then I felt it on the downs, there were so many rocks and stones, definitely a course for full suspension bikes. I was already on position 4 but then after the very long downhill I was about 1:30 behind the 4th on place 5. I know Nico Sterck from racing before, and he is definitely not a slow runner. 

I always saw him some hundred meters in front of me, but the heat was tough and I couldnt close the gap. I came closer, but not close enough. The last 2km were back on the beach, littly bit sandy but quite stable. I didnt stop to push my pace, Nico looked back from time to time but kept on running very well. Finally we made it to the finish line him on the 4th me on the 5th, we were both laughing about the race because we had so much fun and he said to me:“boy thats crazy, I felt quite safe, but when I saw you pushing the pace on the last 2km I got a little bit scared about my 4th.“ What an island, what a race.

After cleaning of all my gear, packed the bike we left to the prize giving, but only a few minutes because I had to leave to the airport on the same afternoon.