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Go back in time with us and experience our third 2021 UCI Mountainbike World Cup.
Stefan Bregmo drove the RV and Oscar Byhlinder, our team fixer and jack of all trades, loaded himself into the Teams Skoda Octavia in the roll of follow car.
The caravan set off from Alingsås via Råstock destination Leogang, with the ferry departing to Rostock @ 23.00 hours. The ferry trip is a 7 hour session at sea before touching land again so this gave us a few hours rest to prepare ourselves for the next leg down to our final destination, a 950 km autobahn race.
The final 50 kms is when we really started to notice the landscape change and in accordance with our expectations huge mountains appeared along with a landscape that really blows your mind. Wow, just wow!
We arrived late at night and bunked down as quickly as we could as the coming morning we would be up at the crack of dawn and getting on with the setting up of the team stall in time for the arrival of our rockstars!
Before we could close our eyes we were awake again, no coffee no breakfast, check in at the team area followed by a Covid test in Sel am Zee then back to team area for the final set up. We realized then that logistically we had a a perfect location in the team area during set up as more and more teams started to arrive the area filled up quickly.
The clouds were hanging low in the valley so visibility was limited, but as the day progressed and the clouds dispersed this revealed a spectacular landscape as the backdrop to our new home for the next few days was mountain peaks reaching for the sky.
After set up, in the afternoon we, Oscar and Stefan, decided that we needed to re fuel with a pizza and since we were in a famous beer making territory we had to take one or two for the team… someone has to do it. Finding an old mill from the 18th century that had been converted to a restaurant we found what we were looking for.
The flight from Gothenburg to Munich takes off at 13:15 carrying our rockstars Emil Lindgren, Oscar Lind and naturally the stars Photographer Jessica Blomqvist is on the same flight documenting every move.
Arriving at Munich and jumping straight into the team Skoda with chauffeur Stefan at the wheel we headed for Leogang with a 200km drive ahead.
It soon became apparent we didn’t bring the sun with us from Sweden and it was raining cats and dogs so much so that we had to drop our speed on the autobahn down to 50 kmph due to bad visibility making our time in the car a little longer than anticipated, but this was no problem because Oscar our jack of all trades had loaded the car with Swedish sweets and treats, what a guy!
When we arrived we were met by Oscar who had a smile from ear to ear, who wouldn’t have that smile being down here and receiving the team?
Good morning Austria!
The team is now complete and the first real morning together as a team is here.
The rain from yesterday has disappeared but the thick blanket of cloud is still hanging low, once again hiding the majestic view of the mountain peaks.
Temperature is a fresh 15 degrees and we are alle charged for the event, its a little wet and our Wet weather worshipper Emil Lindgren is as happy as a pig in s… well you know what.
After all he’d been performing his rain dance all last week and his wish seemed to be granted!
Naturally the day starts with mandatory Covid testing for all prior being allowed to access the competition area. Here in Leogang it is required to be tested every 72 hours.
With covid testing these days were all well routined being prodded and poked in the face with test kits and glad it is part of the regular routine creating a safe environment for all here in the village and our team, this was a prerequisite for our decision to participate, health and safety first.
We can’t get to the base fast enough. Emil and Oscar now have only one thing in their minds and you can see their eyes change to another mode, it’s now getting real and you can feel it in the air.
The boys are on the track in no time playing in the mud. And we mean mud! The boys are running a slicker profile during the 1st test lap, and when they get back after the 1st test lap they both roll into the pit covered in mud from top to toe to get new wheels set up for these conditions.
A couple of hours and laps later partying in the mud they return and Oscar B takes care of the bikes whilst they smile gladly handing them over to him.
Friday is pretty relaxed, set up done, health tests done, test laps done, the only one who had another test was Oscar L and that was studying for his drivers license.
Oscar B, Stefan and Jessica, we make our way by car to the competition are whilst Emil jumps on the bike and gets a few kms in making his way there in this fantastic part of the world.
We all catch up, hang out and soak up the fresh air and views and atmosphere.
In the afternoon it’s time for XCC. 20 minutes in the pain cave for the top 40 riders on this short track.
Finding a patch of sun we settle down with a perfect view of the course whilst Jessica runs off cameras in hand to find position for the best shots of the action and getting that shooting finger warmed up before Sunday’s main events.
We wake up to a sunny day and snow capped peaks. Just breathtaking.
There is no competition today for Oscar L (U23) as there was in the previous races in Albstadt & Nove Mesto, this is due to the Saturday program of the downhill competitions. So we have a chance to relax in the morning before heading to the track again to smash some final training laps, finding those lines and memorizing every stone and root.
2 laps of the track is planned and the track has changed having dried up considerably compared to our first test labs on Thursday so the discussion of tyre selection and pressure is hot topic. the decision of a faster rolling tread is decided and were ready!
Now both Emil and Oscar L are fully charged and like two bulls at the gate ready to give it all.
Final checks of the equipment by Oscar Byhlinder, polishing, cleaning and obsessively re checking. Ready!
Once Oscar B was finished with the pre race final preparations Jessica and him decided to climb the mountain on their bikes and it was a grouling 1871 meters above sea level to the top lift where we then turned around with elbows out we then raced each other down the mountain. We won’t mention who made it to the bottom first but let’s just say that they both had to work hard.
Tired after this battle, both returning to base for re-fueling and planning.
06:00 Race day. We are there! The alarm is set early and we can see that it is wet outside. It rained during the night but has now stopped.
A pasta and coffee breakfast, fueling the tanks you can feel the anticipation and focus in the atmosphere.
By 07:20 we’ve packed the car and depart base camp at 07:30 and head towards the competition area. First start (Oscar L U23) rides at 10:15 and we in good time for preparation and warm-up. A final check of tire choice for the technical zone, and we decide that the choice of tyre will be as decided yesterday.
9:00 The number plates are in place on both jersey and handlebars and the pre race warming up starts. Music in the headphones and full focus.
9:50 rolling towards the start. Stefan assists at the starting line, where the warm-up on roller continues. Oscar B heads off towards the tech-/feed zone where he will later be joined by Stefan. Jessica is out on the track, cameras in hand to find the position for the best photo angles.
10:05 Call up. Thanks to Oscar’s top 20 placement in Nove Mesto, he is this time named No. 75, a clear improvement from the previous race number plate (131), although still a big challenge on this very demanding track with its steep climbs and technical descents.
10:15 And they are off!! It is an incredibly high tempo from the get go, and it is again clear which class these athletes hold. It is difficult to move, but Oscar starts advancing in the group on the tight path. A puncture on lap two forces him to slow down to the technical zone where Oscar B is ready to change wheels in the shortest possible time. Change Done and Up again to continue the war, but he has a tough day in the saddle. Rolls in to finish P55 with, according to himself, “the worst legs of the season”. However, he notes that tough days are part of the game and shortly after the finish line is already fully focused on reloading before the next race (UCI World Cup round 4 Les Gets).
Emil has joined just in time for U23 to finish, the sun is shining over the area and the temperature is rising rapidly Emil has a few hours left until the start of his race Shortly after the Womens elite race.
13:50 Emils warm-up begins. Number 111 adorns handlebars and jersey and he has a real challenge ahead of him.
14:30 Towards start. The procedure is repeated, Stefan at the start with Emil, and then on to Feed Zone, Oscar B positions himself at technical feed zone and Jessica roughing it in the terrain like a true mountain goat holding a kamera.
14:50 Red. Yellow. Green! and they are off….. and despite the steep starting distance that goes up the slalom slope, with such a high pace it is difficult to capture the true challenge angle and difficulty on the TV screen. Further back in the line, there is serious fighting for positions as elbows clash and bars hooking into each other on all sides.
Emil gets off to a good start on the start loop, somewhere in the back middle of the field. Six laps will be executed on the track and about 1300 Altitude meters will be climbed.
Emil keeps a steady and consistent pace throughout the race and gains positions as the laps go by at an incredible pace. After an hour and 25 minutes of racing he rolls over the finish line in P72. A disappointed Emil states that he wants more. Swallow it, move forward, and make a focused plan and strategy for the next race.
Next up – Les Gets (France). See you there! 🇫🇷