Since the weather forecast for the day was pretty bad, the organisers decided that the stage needed to be changed in light of heavy rain and possibly snow on the course in the afternoon.
Instead of a “Time Trial” type start in a cattle hut over the flowtrail down to the valley, there was a mass start in Leukerbad. First we had to go up 8km before riding back to Leukerbad on a mega cool trail! It was slippery and wet, but there was still a lot of grip, I really had fun!
As we started quite fast, we were able to hold the womens lead as far as Leukerbad, some 12km. At 15k we were overtaken by Lüthi / Pirard. On the rest of the downhill, we didn’t lose too much time so we hoped to be back on top at the beginning of the long climb.
We fought the mountain, climbing upwards for ages. Jennie must take credit for the quick start but we couldn’t get closer to Michel and Claudio! The wind turned again and again, sometimes a headwind, sometimes helping from the back.
Then, we were up at the top of the climb and onto a traverse for a few kilometers, which was bad for us….. then, down and right through some real mud so feeling wet and dirty again….
In the woods, it was quite dry and grippy but it wasn’t easy to distinguish dry and grippy from wet and slippy. This technical section asked a lot of Jennie and it was no surprise that Lüthi / Pirard managed to open a gap again and we had to let them through. Jennie was a little stressed by this but I said “No stress!!, no crash!!”. It wasn’t far to the finish line and a fall or mechanical was too great a risk of loosing time.
On to a really steep singletrail where we caught and got tangled up with the Flow category women. This was a very difficult section being a combination of steep and slippery. After that, it was back on the road once more, reaching the last sharp ascent on the trail.
At the line, we were second to finish the stage, 25seconds behind Lüthi / Pirard. They rode well, took their chances and claimed the victory for themselves.