A late departure date meant a bit of a pressurised start to Xterra Czech. I arrived in Prague on Thursday morning, in good spirits and ready to go, however after heading off to the ‘over-sized baggage’ claim area, I discovered my bike had not yet arrived, it turned out that it had no been put on the flight due to human error – very stressed, I drove out to Prachatice, about 150km away from Prague, the venue of Xterra Czech.
Eventually my bike arrived, better late than never, on Friday afternoon a few hours before rac eday. I quickly put the bike together and found my rear derailleur hanger was bent – nightmare! I replaced it and went out to test ride the route, a tough 36km loop with 1150m vertical and lots of ‘hike a bike’ sections ensued, but I felt ready.
Race day finally arrived, a late start of 13:00 gave us sufficient time to prepare. I did my usual spin and 15min swim… But it seemed my body wasn’t ready to play. The start of the race was mad, with over 300 athletes sprinting for a buoy, only 150m out. I was caught in a fist fight and kick contest with some Europeans, after this my mind was a mess and I decided to just relax and just finish. I exited the water way back, even behind guys I usually destroy in the water. On to the next part of the race – the bike.
I paced the bike, a conservative start, but the pace was yet again mad. I found myself sucking for air in around 25th spot – were they going too hard? Did they know something I didn’t know? I settled into a rhythm and started to tick off positions in the final 10k of the bike. I entered T2 in around 12th spot and my legs were ok, but not great! The run was another straight up, straight down route which made it difficult to make up positions.
I finished a broken man… In 8th place. Pretty disappointed, but this is professional racing at the toughest level. Was it the stress of the week or just a bad day… Who knows?
Congrats to Stu – a top 10 result in such crazy conditions is admirable! Stay tuned for more on Stuart’s European adventures!