My first off-road race for this year was a brutal encounter with the terrain here in Italy. A total of two punctures would suggest that I was riding a little harder than necessary over the technical sections today. I finally ended on a second place, which I feel is an acceptable opening for the season.
Italian Annebella Atropparo won the race, seven minutes ahead of me. She rode well and seemed very strong up the climbs. We struggled against each other leaving the start, and rode together through the first round after the opening loop. And then I punctured on the first descent, not even ten minutes into the race! I quickly changed inner tubes, as I was a long distance from the nearest technical assistance, but I was unable to get the gas canister to work, so ended up having to run a fair distance to get a new wheel anyway.
When I finally mounted my bike again, I had countless women ahead of me, plus loads of junior male riders. Kenneth told me we might as well consider this a good training session without lactic acid since the opening had turned out as it did.
One by one I caught up with the other riders, but wasn't even considering a podium finish before I had started the final lap and received word from Kenneth that I was only one minute and 20 seconds behind the rider in second place.
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