Olympic Test Event London, UK

Date: 31.07.2011

Description: XCO Race

1 start plus 7 laps, 33km, 1.33h racing time
Second Place, 1.20min behind winner Julien Absalon

My bike:
29er Stumpjumper hardtail, Renegade 1.95 tires with 24psi front / 25psi rear

It was a short trip to London with the Swiss Cycling and Olympic federation. We flew up on Friday and back home on Sunday straight after the race. To me it is a big benefit to know the course under race conditions plus the whole area as well.

Our hotel was about 15km away from the course. It was not a pretty building and reception, but the rooms had good space and bed was comfi. With our £12.- voucher we could eat at the restaurant next door. A very British fish and chips restaurant, but I must admit they’re pale ale and burrito was exceptionally good. There was even outside sitting next to a mini lake. Anyway it was not a holiday trip!

There was no point to be nervous at the start line, but suddenly it hit me! It must have been the facts of being on holy olympic soil, the race setup was olympic like, plus a good crowd of spectators. It was sold out with 5000 spectators. At the olympics there will be 20’000 and it is sold out already!

I had a good start off the gun, but on the fist climb everything slowed down due the loose ground and Sven Nys had to get off his pedal right in front of me, which then slowed me down even more. There is hardly no passing on this course and it took me a long time until I moved up to second. Julien took the whole shot, and he was not second once for one millimeter! At one time he was more then 2minutes ahead, but at the end I could close it down to 1.20minutes.

There is no rest on this course. Only the one hard packed downhill lets you recover a little, the rest is full on concentration with all its drops, berms, rock gardens, tight switch backs, loose gravel and hard uphills.
I like the course and it is not as punchy as expected. In my eyes it is very much about riding smooth, pedalling the right gears which is saving energy style riding.
In the past I was always in trouble racing berms fast, but now with my 29er I sit so stable in the center of the bike plus the big wheels are keeping my upright and do not under or over steer. I feel very fast!

Link 1

My favorite picture of the London Test Event taken by Rob Jones.

It looks like Gergia Gould taken a wrong line and is going to eat some rocks in a second…

Bresset, Pendrel and Gould
Bresset, Pendrel and Gould

Something to watch from London