Two weeks ago we headed East towards Poland for our second mixed stage race this season.
We had a couple of good weeks at home after our French experience made us confident that the physical part was okidoki.
Our bikes were up to date, our driver Bart was once again very enthusiastic about the upcoming.
What could go wrong?
The weather of course was once again not spoiling us. Forecast for the week was not to cold but often rain and wind. On Saturday we had a rather good weather day.
We left on Friday to be there classically a day before the competition.
Prologue on Sunday, followed by 5 stages going around the Sudety area.
Stages were announced not to be very long, but the altitude meters were nevertheless not to be called 'from the pussy'...
The prologue went well and we finished on the third spot in the mixed category.
A good beginning, and so we could measure up against the other couples. Most of them were equipped with pulling systems such as dog leashes and other strings.
Here in Poland apparently still allowed to pull with attachments. (Quite dangerous as you ask me, but 'allowed' is 'allowed'...)
On the technical difficult prologue those ingenious inventions were not quite practical, but we knew there were other stages coming up where the pulling could give them a greater advantage.
The battle of the mixed teams was 'on' and it would be close races this week.
As I mentioned before, the weather was not on our side, but the more difficult it was, the better for our team.
Sara had a great two first days, and I had left my legs at home. Things weren't going for a meter for me.
First two days we lost a spot in the GC, but the difference was not too big yet.
Third day we had the ride of our lives, and we managed to regain the third spot.
On the forth day we were struggling with mechanical problems. Due to the amounts of mud and water our derailleurs were not shifting properly, and we lost a lot of time due to those issues.
We would start the last day with an advantage of 11' on the team behind us.
Numbers 1 & 2 were far gone, so we had to look more behind then in front.
11' is a reassuring advantage, but with 25km's of asphalt and easy shotter roads on the track, we were not convinced it would be in the pocket.
From the start line on, the mixed teams were all gathered in front. Start was killing fast, but we managed both not to let them bike away this time.
The technical parts were so heavy, we stayed confident.
Derailleur problems once again. (This time on my bike, because I had changed Sara's on my bike). I know, I'm a gentleman... ☝
At 3/4 of the race, nothing shifted on my bike. I thought we were losing it after all. We hadn't been able to catch up the couple in the muddy technical parts of the track.
At the finish we were both as well mentally as physically exhausted.
We were not sure about how much time we had lost, but Sara went straight to the timing truck, and she came back with a big smile.
37" we had left.
BAM for the second time in a row we would be together on a podium.
Still a great feeling.
A good week it was, a part from the tremendous amounts of rain and mud we had to conquer.
Thanks to our driver Bart Kirkels for the support.
Thanks to Erik Dekker and Ilse de Rouw for the company.
Thanks to the organiser for the work they've put in this well organised stage race. We will be back.