The Missoula ProXCT turned out to be a success! I was a little apprehensive about my preparation coming into the race - I had been on the move from NC to CO, and a housing snafu in Boulder made life a little more stressful.
The course in Montana was a little less technical than I had been hoping; the course mainly consisted of one large, gravel climb, followed by a flowing, high-speed descent. A hot lap the day before also indicated that even though the altitude wasn't extreme, it was enough to play a role in my pacing strategy.
The race was at 7:00pm on Saturday, so after a full day of waiting around, we finally got the race underway. I played my cards safe, and held back on my pace; a move that paid off. As it turns out, that was just about exactly the pace I could hold for the 1.5 hour race.
With a 5th place performance on Saturday, I was happy with the result and less stressed about the STXC on Sunday.
As Sunday morning rolled around, I was ready to see what I had left in the tank. Jerry Dufour and I took turns at/near the front for about 1/3rd of the race. We helped spread the field out, solidifying a group of 4 riders by the end. As the final laps ticked by, I was among the 4, and was able to hold on to a 3rd place finish.
Happy to grab a few podium finishes!
Now, back to CO for 2 days, and then a quick turnaround to rounds 4 and 5 of the Canada Cups with Bear Development Team.
From the top: The XC podium (5th), the STXC podium (3rd)
Racing in Europe with USAC this spring was a fantastic experience. As a team, we hit 3 races: We started at a UCI HC race in Austria, then moved to the Nove Mesto and Albstadt World Cups. With the World Cups being the main focus, Austria was meant to help us gain UCI points and get us settled for the World Cups the following weeks. Nestled in the Alps and boasting a superb course, the race surpassed my expectations!
Thinking that course would be a hard act to follow, we headed to Nove Mesto. The course at Nove Mesto also exceeded my expectations; easily one of my favorite venues, the track offered ample room for passing, raucous crowds, and enough technicality to call it a MTB course.
Albstadt, while a little underwhelming when compared to the previous two, was still a good course. With demanding climbs and fast descending, it was a punishing course to race..
My results this year were a significant improvement over last year's European races - I finished:
7th in Austria, gaining UCI points
38th in Nove Mesto after starting 81st
46th in Albstadt after starting 83rd and suffering through a tough race.
Thank you to Bear Development Team and USAC for making that trip a reality! I'm coming away optimistic about my results, but excited to train and make more improvements.
From the top: UCI HC race in Austria, Attacking on the Nove Mesto course, Suffering in Albstadt
Luke Vrouwenvelder - Head coach at lukeVcoaching and pro cyclist based in Charlottesville, VA