Local boy Lukas Buchli of the BiXS-IXS Pro Team has won the final round of the UCI marathon series, the O-Tour Bike Marathon, in Alpnach in Switzerland. Part-local, but actually British champion, Jane Nuessli from Fischer-BMC, took the women’s race.
An absolutely beautiful day greeted the 900 or so riders that had made the trip to near Lucerne for the race – the main marathon was 86km with 3,000m of climbing; there was also a half marathon, won by Mariusz Kowal and Nadia Walker, plus races for beginners and kids.
The race started up a steady tarmac climb only a few hundred metres from the start. Straight away the leaders sorted themselves into two groups of about 10. From there Buchli put a minute and a half into his closest challenger, Martin Gujan from Cannondale Factory Racing, with everyone’s favourite ex-Tour pro Alexandre Moos of BMC completing the men’s podium.
The course had a great mixture of road climbing, leading into some interesting singletrack and old stone-lined walking trails, the standard-issue schotter descents, but also a good amount of fast, wooded, often rocky singletrack – worth keeping your wits about you.
Team MarathonMTB.com had two riders in the men’s race – Stu Spies and Will Hayter. The story of Will’s race is below, in his own words. Stu’s tale will follow.
For once for a Euro marathon this year, I was going into the race pretty fresh, but with a block of decent training and racing behind me, so had high hopes of a decent finish. If ever there was a day for the saying “best-laid plans…. etc.” though, today was it.
Whether it was too much caffeine, too much pasta the night before, too much porridge on the morning of the race, who knows. But when I started to get a stitch towards the top of the first climb, having ridden up that in a decent position inside the top 20, I had a feeling something wasn’t right. Sure enough, after losing a few places on the gravel descent (pretty much standard issue for me), the legs started to tie up and even feel like they were verging on cramp. All the while with a creeping stitch. Not comfortable. Come the second climb, and feeling like I was creeping, and then getting to the top and feeling as if I needed to be sick, things weren’t getting better.
Having a dodgy stomach meant I was struggling to drink, so the final nail in the coffin was cramp making its way from calves to quads and round to hamstrings. A new one was my non-braking fingers all cramping up too, with stretching out fingers not being helpful to controlling the bike on the last descent.
So all round not the best performance – 30th in the licensed category, with plenty of fast people without licenses able to pass me too.
Whatever the outcome though, you’ve got to love a well-run Euro marathon on a sunny day in the Alps. Racing with mates on a good course, firemen holding up traffic, kids with cow-bells on the mountain-tops, amazing views from up high – big snow-capped peaks, glistening in the sunshine. Nice chilled-out atmosphere in the finish village too. All good.