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Read about Richard Larséns experience at Cykelvasan and what happened in the Swedish trails of XCM Nationals this weekend!
Cykelvasan is truly one of the biggest highlights of the year. Riders from all over Sweden, Norway and Denmark comes together on the startline, with the same goal of being the very fastest between Sälen and Mora.
Even though this years edition was, as everything else since the past one and a half year, slightly stripped down from the regular 13 000 riders, we still new that it would be a hard fight for the top positions with all pre-favorite riders to start.
We now get to take part in Richard Larsén’s own experience during the 94 km between Sälen and Mora. Richard is one of Sweden’s most experienced road cyclist with merits such as gold medal in the Swedish nationals. Enjoy!
17:00 and the start goes off. It is relatively controlled, no attacks and the field was thus kept together for the first intermediate sprint. On the team discussion before start we had decided to not aim for any sprints if the peloton was gathered. When we approached Risberg, however, Emil was in a good position to take the first sprint relatively easily and so he did.
After Risberg, the competition starts for real when the track becomes narrower, everyone rides in one or two lines and advancing up in the group is difficult and risky as it has to happen out at the edge of the ditch. The speed is gradually increased and at certain times it goes hard enough for the field to be stretched out significantly. We still all manage to stay around 10th position, which turns out to be crucial as we all avoid the crash that happened out on Sälenvägen.
As we approach Evertsberg, the peloton has lost some cyclists but is still quite big. About one kilometer before the competition’s only K.O.M, you can feel how the tension has raised and so has the speed. Emil takes command once again and can count in this price as well in today’s collection.
We are now halfway in and some riders are starting to get tired. I am trying to attack and so does others with me but it is not until David Eriksson, Michael Olsson and Kristian Klevgård leaves that it becomes a real gap down to the rest of the field. However, the peloton quickly realize that Olsson is a big threat considering the fact that he has won Cykelvasan before, and they are therefore driven in again after a few kilometers. Klevgård and Eriksson immediately go on the attack again though and are now released – this in the pelotons belief that they could be run in later.
The cooperation in what was left of the peloton was deficient and sporadic. It was not until Oscar Lind drove really hard up in Lundbergsbackarna that we took in some time. The peloton also burst off in a lots of smaller groups by now and it was from here the competition became really though.
A few miles later we caught Eriksson who had to let go of the strong Norwegian who was now alone in front. The cooperation in the peloton, however, remains poor and we and others begins to attack again to create a smaller and more manageable group. However, this was unprofitable and we were a relatively large group who in the last kilometers towards the finish line realized that we would have to sprint for the second place.
The final was chaotic, with narrow passages, tired legs and poles that stood in the middle of the competition track. This made sprint assignments more or less impossible and it became more of a fight man against man than team against team. Emil manages to get out of the tight sections in a nice position and only sees himself beaten by Mattias Wengelin in the sprint and becomes 3rd. I do find a gap eventually and finish P4 closely followed by Oscar in a solid P7.
For my sake, this was a bit of a victory. Not because I’m normally happy to be 4th. More because after basically 16 years away from competing on MTB I am back again. To have the first competition done and to be able to be at the top during the day. Although it is a completely different type of thinking, dynamics and strategies that takes place in an MTB race, which has made me humble for upcoming races, I am happy and satisfied to be able to deliver a stable sprint and make a stable result in one of the Nordic countries’ biggest competitions in all categories. This made me want more!
Fast-forward to Sunday and the Swedish Nationals in XCM. Trollhättan and Alliansloppet action week invites us to a lactic acid party when the Swedish champions in marathon will be crowned. 80 kilometers is on the schedule and the track is known to be tough. It is one of Sweden’s most technical marathon races and consists mostly of single trail. A ride of almost three hours waits.
The team arrived in Trollhättan with a great feeling for the day. The legs felt good after Thursday’s “workout” and all riders were loaded to race again. After we organized around feed and tech service, it was time for a short warm-up before the start.
The start goes off and Lindgren speeds up from the beginning. A quintet is quickly formed in front consisting of, him, Wengelin, Lind, Olsson and Svensson.
Lindgren describes the course as tough and really tricky with a challenging first part, and two laps will be completed on the 40 km long track. Out on the second lap, the speed is increased further but no one manages to get away from the others. In the last slopes towards the goal, however, Olsson decides to change that and increases the speed further. Wengelin answers and they picture a duo with Lindgren chasing close behind.
It all comes down to a sprint for the victory which Wengelin pinches one hundredth before Olsson. A few seconds later, Lindgren takes the bronze medal. Oscar Lind ends on P8.
In the women’s class, Emma Belforth pinches the silver medal after an even battle with Jenny Stenerhag.
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