Following the Challenge race in Fuertevetura I stayed on in Playitas to do a small training block to prepare for Mallorca. I wanted to avoid the cold weather in the UK to make sure I was ready for another hot race, this wasn't the case as you will find out soon. I then flew back to Loughborough for a day and then out to Mallorca to meet up with the Raceforce team.
For the week I was going to be part of their race hub set-up. Raceforce are a company that pick up triathletes bikes in the UK and take them to races all over Europe. The bikes are assembled and serviced for the customers ready for them to ride when they arrive. Raceforce take the worry and hassle out of building your bikes and anything going mechanically wrong with them. As a whole package they arrange the hotel to stay in, swim, bike and run recce's, and also airport transfers, you just have to turn up and race.
Early on in the week I helped build the 50 customer's bikes that had arrived on the two vans, I fitted this around a complete bike course recce and I also checked out the swim and run course. I helped lead a couple of the swim activities with Raceforce and also a transition walk though which was also pretty useful for me as it was one of the biggest with 4000 athletes racing. It was a great change from racing on my own and I got to meet some very interesting and enthusiastic new people.
Race day came around quickly, the weather leading into Saturday had been perfect, warm and low winds. On race morning we were greeted with heavy rain and strong winds. My time away acclimatising to hot conditions hadn't worked out so well.
90 Pros lined up under the start banner in front of 4000 age group athletes. 60 men and 30 women. We would start first at 7:55am with spectators and media lining the periphery of our entry into the water. The swim was 1.9km in a single lap. The countdown began and a rush of adrenaline went from head to toe, that's why I race, for that feeling. Bang, the gun went and we ran and dived into the sea. I hung on to the pack for a few 100m before finding some similar paced swimmers to sit behind, half way though I lost them and also lost my way. I came around the second turn buoy and couldn't see the return marker buoys. It had got quite choppy further out. So I began swimming towards the beach, by the time the swell dropped I was about 50m wide of them having swam to far to the left. I finished the swim and ran into transition.
Out on the bike the rain and wind made for treacherous conditions. The roads were like glass and I had a couple of dodgy moments where the tyres lost grip and this was on the flat. I made some good progress in the first 20km of the bike catching and overtaking 5 people. This is one of the first races where I've sat on the TT bars for so long with no climbs to break up the first 20km. Upon reaching the foot of the 15km climb to the monastery at Lluc, I was suddenly alone in the mist, climbing solo in pursuit of the race that was unfolding a few km's ahead of me. Climbing was simple in the wet, you just ride like normal, stick to your numbers and get the job done. Coming down the other side was a different matter. I was slipping every corner, even though I was taking them uber carefully. The pressure of the pursuit was resulting in some poor technical decisions on the bike. I made it down managing to stay upright but my body had lost its rhythm that had been so good on the climb and before. I was freezing and my leg muscles had shut down and shortened making the watts harder to hold. I persisted and got on with the job. I made it though the twisty villages and small towns out onto the open roads still not seeing a single person. This is the loneliest race I've done, but I stayed focused. The roads opened up and suddenly I could see four riders in a staggered pace line ahead of me. I bridged the gap to the first, second and then third rider. Coming into the last 15km I overtook the last of the four riders, putting in a hard effort to ensure he wouldn't stay with me. Caught up in the moment I misjudged a fast approaching corner, carrying to much speed in it. I took a good racing line, one that would have been ok in the dry, but in the wet it was a different story. The bike went from being under me to sliding across the road to my left. I went down hard on my elbow and hip. Not long after, the rider I'd caught slipped and skidded round the corner, and came off too. We both swore, not at each other but at at the stupidity of crashing this late in the race. He got back on quickly and rode off unhurt. I nursed myself though the last few Km's of the ride struggling to sit in the aero position or put down much power.
I limped though transition and the first few km's of the run before finding my run legs and forgetting the pain. The support on the run was unreal considering the conditions, with crowds lining the roads. This provided such a huge lift and I could feel my pace increase, I made up 4 places in the first lap. Settling in and ticking of the kilometres like a metronome. I really enjoyed the run, the temperature was pleasant and I felt strong. I made up more places on the second lap but couldn't see who I was overtaking as easily as the run course was becoming full of the other competitors. I ran hard right to the finish line. I crossed the line in 25th.
The pain in my elbow and hip came rushing back the second I stopped running, my elbow had swelled to the size of a golf ball and my hip was bruised, luckily there was minimal road rash. I made my way quickly to the hotel not feeling like eating anything, to jump in a warm shower and find some respite from the pounding raindrops.
Everyone that finished today deserves a mention, it was a really tough race, chapeau to everyone that crossed that finish line, and especially to the winners Andreas Dreitz and Laura Philipp who went so fast in those conditions.
Thanks to all my sponsors: Pearl Izumi, Compressport, Lazer Helmets, Pedal Potential, Huub, Cervelo, Rotor, Batworthy Botanicals, and the Jeremy Willson CT also my coach Mark. Your support means so much to me and to my progression within the sport. Many thanks to Raceforce for having me as well and I look forward to doing another race with you soon.