Middle distance final
Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Report by team coach, Kay Haasma
The good performances of the Aussie MTBO team continued today in the Middle Distance Championships held in the forest adjacent to Montalegre, the host town. Adrian Jackson (67.14) again rode brilliantly to snare the silver medal, just being outpointed by the Flying Finn, Samuli Saarela by 40 seconds. The large Italian contingent went berserk with joy when it was confirmed that Luca Dallavalle had held on to third, to be Italy’s first ever MTBO medallist. Adrian, not having a top 10 world ranking due to not racing overseas since last year, wasn‘t eligible for a red group start at the end of the field. He thus was midway in the 94 starters and had to endure over an hour wait to see where he would finish.
Grant Lebbink unfortunately drew the very first start and was reasonably happy with his navigation, and finished in 48th place in a time of 83 minutes. Alex Randall was very happy with his ride and was in the top 10 for a long time until slipping to 21st, in a time of 75 mins. A great result given the ever increasing depth of the competition. Steve Cusworth was unhappy when he finished due to many small time losses and some dubious route choices. However his 76 minute time and 25th place showed again what potential he has.
The elite girls saw Melanie Simpson place 25th in 69 minutes, with Mel rueing a 4 minute mistake when she inadvertently rode towards a later control. Mary Fien was relieved to get a solid result (27th in 70mins) in the middle distance after bad performances at previous championships and is looking forward with more confidence to the long. Austria’s Michaela Gigon again reasserted her status at the top of the women’s field with a speedy 60 minutes, ahead of Denmark’s Rikke Kornvig and Finn Marika Hara.
Unfortunately both junior championship races were declared void after a control was misplaced by 70 metres or so, being on a completely separate track junction. Our three riders found the control with losses of only about 30 seconds, as did most. Luke Poland had the presence of mind to take part of the tape that was in the correct place. Luke was stoked with his ride, having navigated really well after a scrappy ride in the sprint. He took 76 minutes. Chris Firman wasn’t so pleased with his 71 minute ride, so was surprised that he was placed approximately 18th. Marc Gluskie had some nav problems today taking 81.57mins but his fitness should see him bounce back in the long. The current plan is to turn the long prologue into the middle distance final, however we are awaiting details of how this will be organised and how the riders will then be seeded for their actual long final.
The terrain was very hilly and winning times were 7-9 minutes longer than anticipated. Both Mary and Alex got caught up amidst different herds of cows whilst riding through a village. The finish saw riders coming through the streets of Montalegre for the final controls before finishing adjacent to the Cavado River on the edge of town. One item of interest is that all Scandinavian countries were represented for the first time, so the competition will only get stronger. The long distance qualification is tomorrow in the mountains behind Chaves, about an hour away.
Some other anecdotes of the day:
The miniscule Italian rider that all our boys are aiming to beat is actually 13 years and 6 months. Melanie put him in his place during the middle distance event by riding past him up a hill.
Car trouble - going to the sprint the electronics of the van carrying all our bikes died. Kay was fearful that the automatic locking would mean we would sitting at the event with bikes locked away, but luckily the doors opened. Then on the return trip three different warning lights came on in the car and it lost almost all power. After an inspection by the Japanese team we limped home. As the next day was the bush model event on an area we had already ridden we decided to have an easy ride around Montalegre instead. Kay got driven for 3 hours in a Mercedes taxi to some town starting with "Br..." (apologies the map is not handy) to pick up another van and then had to navigate back through Spain to get home - so an all day outing after having to wait for the van. Then about 40kms from home the engine warning light came on in the replacement van!! So Mike Gluskie had the task of taking it to the nearby depot during the middle, which luckily was only 2 kilometres down the road from our accommodation.
It was great to see that the age old skill of card playing still survives. As some people had over 2 and a half hours wait in quarantine at the start this was a good way of filling in time.
The making of chocolate mousse became a team bonding session when everyone was conscripted to beat the ingredients in the absence of an eggbeater. The fastest hands in the house belonged to none other than AJ.
After the middle distance race we had 3 Aussies in the open races in David Firman, Briohny Lebbink and Amber Tomas.
Briohny has been doing a fantastic job as the additional team leader, co-ordinating the food supplies, cooking, washing and being the friendly face at the finish. We booked in for 2 meals at the event centre and after the first one all the boys said they were looking forward to Briohny’s home cooked meals again.
The fact that our house has a dishwasher is a definite plus when there are 11 hungry mouths to feed.
(Photos to come when we have a better internet connection...)