The first thought during the first leg of this year's Volcat was, "What am I doing here?!", the second, "Oh, I missed it!" Sven and Janine agreed on that during the race analysis.
Last week Tuesday morning, Sven and Janine set off for Manresa, west of Barcelona. Due to Covid-19 templates they reduced themselves to the "minimum" - themselves and their bikes. Thanks to good preparation of the caretakers at home and of course with a prior PCR test, they were off.
The plan was to get 4 days of "race hardness" in the legs, as well as a first international position determination. So to speak, the first races in 2021. This goal they fulfilled. Short, crisp race days on technically challenging trails, in a well-staffed, international field of starters were in store for the two. They finished with an overall 6th place in the elite women's race for Janine (best German) and a strong 31st place in the elite men's race for Sven.
Stage 1 - 39km / 1000hm
SVEN 1:41h - Rang 25
JANINE 2:19h - Rang 7
Stage 2 - 58km / 1600hm
SVEN 2:30h - Rang 23
JANINE 3:14h - Rang 6
Stage 3 - 60km / 1700hm
SVEN 2:45h - Rang 46
JANINE 3:18h - Rang 7
Stage 4 - 38km / 1000hm
SVEN 1:42h - Rang 39
To the individual stages:
Stage 1: "System shock", fast start at 16:30, elbows out and try to put up as much resistance as possible against the master riders starting directly with us. I was no longer used to "elbowing" in such a huge field. Finished Sven and Janine arrived at the finish, he as strong 25th elite rider, Janine as 7th in the F elite!
Wash the bikes, back to the apartment. Shower, cook, talk briefly with coach, sleep > without support is so race something else!
Stage 2: (Janine) Start with hydration pack and spare material, today fortunately directly uphill, well positioned in 4th place, in the descents lost too much time, in the end 6th place. (Sven) Came well ahead and positioned himself in the chasing group, shortly before the end he had to let this group go then, but still came 23rd to the finish with just 4min. Behind the overall winner. "On the last kilometer cramps had slowed me down, 25 degrees are then still something unusual after a winter so completely without south", reports Sven.
Stage 3: Start again uphill and hydration pack on a strongly direction-changing course, Janine tried to follow their lines, so slowly, however, the concentration decreased, saw in the last 15km again Figueres and Greta in front of him, alone in the wind but she had not managed to approach them. Janine rank 7th, Sven initially caught a very good start and positioned himself again in the top 20, but a little later he had to save himself with defective rear wheel to the finish. "After a long test of patience, everything finally worked again and I rode my race and tried to catch up with the field from behind, which cost me energy," said Strähle, who finished in 46th place with two places.
Stage 4: (Janine) Fast start, this time gave a bottle to the team Texpa Simplon, uphill ridden together with women 3-7, before the last curve thought to sprint off now, that she would not be cut off directly downhill, then the mountain went into a steeper ramp with approx. 700m over -> she had not expected, nevertheless pressed over it, as the first in the downhill and drove to the first feed zone with rank 3-5; then lost too much in the downhill, but finished with the best rank of the day on 5 and made good by 20 seconds still an overall placement, daily goal achieved.
(Sven) Started exactly the same as Janine, fared similarly with the mini-ramp and placed well, finished a solid 38th. After yesterday's catch-up, this was the maximum and he is very happy with his performance. "The form is going in the right direction, I just hope that races under the conditions may continue to take place".