Posted by Editoress on 04/19/04
Martina Feldmann is living, training and racing in Spain this spring. From time to time she sends us a recount of one of her races
Well, it has been a week since I have compeleted my 3-day MTB stage race. This was an absolutely awesome race! It was a point-to-point race through four different Spanish villages. We commenced in the mountain village of Berga, approximately 30 KM from Andorra. The initial stage was 54 KM; the distance was reduced from 60 KM due to the rain. As the race began, the entire field of 180 riders rolled through the streets of Berga and as we left the village the race truly started. The roll start was quite interesting for those in the back of the entire field; the slinky effect came into play.
Since I have never competed in a stage race and I knew that there would be 3 days of long and intense racing ahead of me; I had to restrain myself and go out very controlled. I fought through some serious mud puddles, crossed 3 rivers and climbed the Spanish hills. The mud created a heavy terrain that "sucked" the energy from your legs. The night before the first stage we were all warned that there would be some river crossings. The commissar mentioned that there would be some ropes available to pull yourself across in one of the rivers due to the heavy current. I found this very amusing especially since I am quite light and can not swim. Anyway, at the first feed-zone (16 km into the race), I was the 10th Pro Elite women and 2nd U23. I was having a difficult time because I wanted to make sure that I was not completely exhausting myself on the primer stage. However, by the half way mark I had moved into 7th and 1st in the U23.
The laborious stage had already taken its toll one a few riders. At this point of race, I was constantly passing people from various categories. Then, with approximately 45 minutes remaining I had moved into 6th and closing on the 5th place rider. The route was incredible! Even thought the roads were suitable for mudbogging, the scenery was fantastic. The stage finished in the village of Cardona. It was quite unique because at the edge of Cardona there is a distinct castle. As I rode towards the village, one could see the castle situated on a hill with Cardona surrounding it below. The last 500 meters, all 180 athletes climbed through Cardona's steep streets.
We zigzagged through the village houses, down some stairs and cornered into the finish. The first stage was won by the Marathon MTB World Champion of 2003.
VOLCAT Stage #1, Berga to Cardona
Overall Pro Elite Women
4. Silvia Rovira
6. Martina Feldmann (1st U23)
After a fatiguing first day, I returned back to the hotel in Igualada (the stage race would end there). We relaxed in our rooms trying to recover as good as possible
The following day, April 10, we started our day again at 6 am with breakfast. The 2nd stage initiated in Cardona and ended in the village of Calaf. The stage was 54 km and the terrain was still very muddy.
Once again, 180 riders cruised through the streets of Cardona disappearing in the distance as they climbed away from the village. The first kilometer ascended up a paved road away from Cardona and continued into a small forest on the wide gravel road. It was very fast through the forest, but after about 1 kilometer congested. The track had narrowed into a very steep single trail and as I arrived there was a group of approximately 40-50 athletes waiting in line to scramble up this steep pitch. Then for the next few kilometers we continuously climbed through the moist forest.
By kilometer 21, I arrived at the first feed-zone; I was in 7th place and 1st U23. The remaining portion of the route proved to be quite fast, with paved sections and wide logging road descents. As we neared the finish, the village of Calaf, I could see the 6th place rider just ahead. The remaining few kilometers was on a small paved road leading into Calaf. I managed to ride with another athlete and we motored to the finish. Cranking in the highest gear, I was hoping to make up some time on the remaining field. The finish of the second stage was in the center of Calaf in the Town Square.
Stage #2 Cardona - Calaf
1. Anna Szfraniec
2. Maja Wloszczowsk
3. Magdalena Sadlecka
4. Silvia Rovira
7. Martina Feldmann (1st U23)
Finally, on April 11, it was time for the final stage. This stage was the shortest with a total distance of 36 km from Calaf to Igualada. Once again all the athletes gathered in the Town Square where stage #2 had ended the previous day.
That particular morning, despite a beautiful blue sky, it was absolutely freezing. On my warm-up I was bundled in 2 jerseys, a vest and jacket along with leg warmers, but I was still cold.I knew that this stage was going to be fast due to the shorter distance. I managed to sneak into the 2nd last row in the starting field opposed to my usual last row. The start was quite mellow but once the field hit the first ascends; the race had heated up. Like the previous stages, this stage contained some rivers that made the course very interesting.
However, two of these rivers where quite deep and I found myself surrounded by water up to my hip. It was actually quite amusing because I started walk through the river (or attempted to ride) and all of a sudden there would be an unexpected hole that was about 2 feet deeper. Obviously I would miraculously find these very deep water holes all the time.
This final stage also proved to be quite more technical than the other previous stages, so I was having a blast riding the single trail. Then the last 6-7 km was a fast rolling portion into the finish. As I was puffing up the very last hill, my dad had informed me that I was in 2nd place, overall! I was quite surprised and extremely satisfied. The 3rd stage ended in Igualada, where I was staying for the past three days in a downtown hotel.
Stage #3 Calaf - Igualada
1. Silvia Rovira
2. Martina Feldmann (1st U23)
3. Anna Szfraniec
4. Magdalena Sadlecka
To conclude this 3-day event, all the athletes, coaches and any spectator who so chose, had a late lunch along with the awards. As I had discovered last year, the Spanish love their trophies. I mean if an Alison Sydor were Spanish she would definitely require a few extra rooms in her house just for the trophies. So, this MTB stage race was no exception, I received my trophies!!!
The VOLCAT 04 was a great experience and I hope that in 2005 I can attend once again.
Final Overall Classification
1. Anna Szafraniec
2. Silvia Rovira
3. Maja Wloszczowsk
4. Magdalena Sadlecka
6. Martina Feldmann (1st U23)
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