The Australian MTBO team is now settled in the town of Chaves and have competed in some local races over the weekend. Many of the European teams have already raced and trained in Portugal, so there was only a small collection of international riders who were racing. Both races started and finished in the small village of Tinhela.
The middle distance race on Saturday was physically demanding because of the steep hills and rocky tracks (as an idea, in the womens course we had 17,6km and 500m of climb). The route choices in Sunday’s long distance race involved a lot more sealed road sections, which meant that the courses did not feel so much more physically demanding as we were anticipating. Adrian was even expecting a second map at the end of the long! Both days were hot, dusty and rocky.
Junior Boys All of the junior boys are competing internationally for the first time so these events were a good warm-up. Marc Gluskie was the only one of the Aussie junior boys to complete two full races and finished in a very commendable 6th overall. Luke Poland didn’t arrive in time for the event on Saturday having ended up stuck in Barcelona when he couldn’t take his bike on the train. He organised himself some alternative transport and rode on Sunday, finishing in 123mins in 16th place. He tells me it took him a while to get into the map and get use to the animals (dogs, cows, goats, donkey) and local farmers who were out and about on the map. Chris mispunched at a control that was on a similar feature and was a sequential number. He otherwise had a good ride and would have been in about 6th place. On Sunday, Chris was suffering from the effects of the start of a cold, he drank his way through 2 bottles of water and found the second half of the course very draining. He finished in 130mins and came straight back to the car for more water.
Senior Men Adrian Jackson finished 2nd overall behind Denmark’s Erik Skovgaard Knudsen. His time on Saturday was a mere 2 seconds behind Erik in about 65mins and he then relaxed the pace a bit for Sunday’s ride. Alex Randall finished 5th overall having riden solidly both days. Grant Lebbink ended up in 13th place overall. Steve Cusworth rode solidly on the first day, but had some trouble with one of the controls and finished in 89mins. Unfortunately, Steve had a flat and then a crash in the long distance and didn’t end up finishing the course.
Senior Women Mel Simpson had reasonable rides coming 9th and 3rd in the individual races and 4th overall. There were several route choices on both days and it was interesting to compare with the other girls afterwards, taking particular note of when it was advantageous or not to avoid the hills. Mary Fien, whose bike did not arrive at the aiport as expected, borrowed Mel`s bike on Saturday and did the course a minute quicker in 66mins. By Sunday she had aquired the hire bike which was not the most highly spec’ed of bikes. Even before reaching the start line she’d resigned herself to the fact that it would be an entertaining experience. Despite the bike`s best efforts she finished the race in 104mins in 9th position!!
Training The last couple of days have involved training on the local maps and looking through the old part of town in Chaves where the sprint will be held on Sunday. That and trying to keep cool. You can read more about the teams adventures at their blog: http://ozmtboteam.socialfx.net
Australian team brochure Profiles of members of the Australian team can be found in the 2010 Aust MTBO team brochure.pdf.