It has been a great six weeks since arriving in Valencia. We have now finished up the European phase of racing and are beginning the long journey to Adelaide (Via Auckland). Since racing in Valencia we made a short stop in Paris for a day of racing and then made our way to Cottbus, Germany for three weeks of training/ racing.
Paris was a first for me. We arrived late in the day after a day of delays at the airport and in traffic. We had hoped we would be able to get on the track however being outdoor it was too wet to ride. This would mean our first ride on the track would be in the flying 200m the next day. I was fairly tentative after seeing the track. Bumpy concrete, dead flat straights and 45 degree banking’s would make for some interesting racing. The French would definitely have a home advantage.
Race day was spent sitting in a tent track side waiting for the rain to clear. At 6pm the track was dry and the programme was reduced to a flying 200m time trial and keirin racing. I had a lucky run in the 200m to finish 6th. The keirins were interesting feeling more like a road sprint than track racing. I made it through to the B final rolling through for 2nd behind Simon with Tom close third. Eddie again used his seated power to win the final. On Sunday we were lucky enough to get to look around Paris. No rain and six sprinters charging around Paris on hire bikes made for a fun day.
After Paris it was off to Cottbus (Germany) via Berlin. Almost all of us had raced in Cottbus before so we felt at home when we arrived. Cottbus is a small town two hours from Berlin. It is home to a number of the top German sprinters and boasts a long list of past and present Olympic medallists. We would have two weekends of racing with sprints and keirins. It’s always tough with 56 riders from 14 countries on the start list.
The first day of racing was about finding our feet and gaining world cup qualification points. I qualified well in 10.15 sec (7th) after 7 rides I finished the day in 8th place. The following day was another long one.
Through the weekend my confidence grew and I started to feel more comfortable on the long concrete track. Some smart riding from Max Levy (keirin silver medal, 2012 Olympics) in the keirin final forced me to get stuck on the outside of the pack and eventually swamped before the line. I ended up finishing 6th overall.
Prior to this trip my highest result had been top 24. So although I would have liked to be on the podium I was happy with an 8th and a 6th, Four days later we would do it all again. However this time I chose to sit the keirin out, Instead choosing to focus on the team sprint and the following racing in Adelaide. The riding went well again despite my legs feeling the fatigue from the previous weekend's racing. I finished up winning the 5-8th final and being part of the winning team sprint team, beating the Germans by over two seconds.
By this stage I had done 29 races in 29 days and the body was feeling it. The next week will be about recovering and getting to Adelaide in good shape. I have now made it to Auckland after 30 hours of travel. We will stay here for two days before we fly to Adelaide for 3 days of Keirins and match sprints. I’m really looking forward to getting onto a wooden track and testing the body out after some much needed recovery time.