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Stage eight: The last one

South Africa, April 4, 2007

Hello everybody,

Stage 8 to Lourensford was the shortest of the stages. You'd think that was the easiest, too, but no, no. It was a hard day throughout, and I can tell you we had to push ourselves to get there.

It was amazing to have a start by the sea in Kleinmond. Just before the start, the announcer appealed to all the racers, and we put our hands in the air and clapped enthusiastically. That was crazy. (Due to the excitement), all my hair was all standing up on my arms--you should have seen it.

As I told you, we couldn't take it easy as we didn't have that much time on the (third-place) Rotwild team in the overall ranking. So we started very fast again. We actually climbed back up the National Park jeep track we had come down on Friday. With less heat, it seemed easier than the day before. We managed again to get in the track before the Rotwild girls. However, we could see that they were not far behind us.

The good thing was that overtaking was really not easy. We got into the first water station in second position. But we were soon overtaken by Rotwild as we were lacking some juice on the way up the longest climb. The Danish girls were also just behind us as we hit the top and entered the compulsory walk(ing section) that was part of this last stage.

At this point, Fabienne started to run down, and we passed quite a few teams including the Rotwild girls. The two of us did a very good downhill, and we were again second 15 km before the finish. Another climb came, and we got passed again by the Rotwild team. However, we knew at this point that they would never take us for half an hour unless we had a very big issue.

We still wanted to finish on the stage podium and were scared to be passed "again" by the Danish girls in the last five kilometers. It did not happen, and we just couldn't believe when we passed the last kilometer to go sign. I had to look back 10 times to be really sure that not only we would be top three in stage eight but that we would be second overall.

We made it!

The pressure released when we entered the stadium. It was a nice finish we rode in circle for 500m, passing the crowd, before (crossing under) the finish banner. Fabienne and I were so happy. We hugged and shouted heeeeeyaaaaaaa. We had made it. We had made it. YES!

Look for my next entry coming soon if you want to read about the post-race party.

Myriam

myriamwww.myriamsaugy.ch (personal website)
www.team-vtt-texner.ch (team website)

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29-year-old Swiss endurance racer Myriam Saugy is training for the Cape Epic mountain bike race to be held in South Africa from March 24 - 31, 2007. She set a goal of participating in the Cape Epic two years ago. In this diary, she documents her training and preparation for the off-road stage race. Saugy began mountain biking in 2000 and racing in 2002. She now rides for Team Texner BMC (www.team-vtt-texner.ch) and is a member of the Swiss endurance national team. Saugy races as an amateur; she is also pursuing a teaching degree in history and geography.