UCI World Cup Round 6 La Bresse, France
7th August 2011

LaBresseThis weekend was the La Bresse world cup and my first one since I knocked myself out in qualifying at Leogang. I've had a good two weeks leading up to this one in Whistler, Canada, so was feeling strong going into it and hoping for a top 40 result. The course is very short for a world cup, there is no chair lift and the race finishes in the centre of La Bresse village, so lots of Frenchies about.... Three good reasons I'd say as to why this wasn't going to be the best event of the season!

Practice started well for me on Friday. There was still a bit of moisture about and as the track is very grassy everyone started on the spikes to maximise grip. It took me a couple of runs to get into the track as in places it was very awkward but when I did I really started to enjoy it. It was fast, technical and steep with very little pedaling and by the time I'd done two runs I was enjoying it on dry tyres.

After missing the last two rounds I was outside the top 80 so only had until 2.30 to practise on Friday. I managed to get seven runs done and by the end I was feeling good on the track. Walking the track while the top 80 are doing their timed runs is always a worthwhile experience, checking out which lines the very best riders are doing and working out where I can make up time.

Qualifying day started well for me and I was riding fast going into the all important run. I did 4 practise runs in the morning, more than I'd usually do but because the track is so short I needed that many to feel like I was into it! Again being out of the top 80 meant I had reduced practise, this time having to stop at 11.30. This is the biggest disadvantage because my qualifying run wasn't until 3.30 so I would have a four hour wait over which the track would change lots!

The hardest thing about world cup qualifying and I”m sure I've said this before, is that fear that if you mess up you're going home and not racing in the final. The mental battle to stay focused and not let the nerves get the better of you is by far harder than the actual run itself. I managed it this time though and had a good run and qualified for Sunday's final in 69th place. At this stage of my racing career I really couldn't care less where in the pack I qualify, as long as I'm inside that top 80!

Saturday night brought us some very heavy rain and Sunday was going to be a completely different event. The spikes went on and within a couple of runs the track was a new place compared with Saturday. Huge muddy ruts developed in places and it was running much slower. I did another 4 practise runs in the morning to get to grips with the new conditions as much as possible. After qualifying had been so tight I new the times would be even tighter today with the track being so short. Any mistake was going to cost you a large handful of places!

La BresseMy race run started well and I was feeling good. On reflection, especially after looking at my first split time, I think I made a mistake taking a slightly different line through a section near the top and it may have cost me a second, because otherwise I had a felt good through it. The rest of my run was good other than a mistake which sent me off line and cost me a couple of seconds closer to the bottom. I finished 48th, but considering I was only 4 seconds off 10th that mistake cost me a good few places and possibly a top 30 result. However as I said afterwards, I need to be making those mistakes at the moment. It is evidence that I'm still learning and trying to push it to get faster. If was holding it together comfortably and getting top 30s I'd be worrying about why I'm not doing better. Instead I know there is time in the bag and I can get right up the rankings with more experience and focus further down the line.

So overall very happy with my 7th ever world cup. I've qualified for 5 out of 7 now over the last 2 seasons which isn't bad going and my next is the 2011 final round in Italy at the infamous Val Di Sole. I absolutely loved that place last year and it stands as my best result so far with 38th. I'm hoping to improve on that this year and get back into that top 40!