WE WON!!!

July 30, 2014

What a fantastic couple of the weeks for the team. A bronze medal at National XC Champs for Isaac, Tim winning Twentyfour12, and now Ben winning 6 out of 7 stages plus the overall classification at BIKE Transalp, the largest and most important mountain bike stage race in Europe!

Here are Ben’s thoughts on winning the 2014 Transalp.

“On Sunday 20th June I began the 7 day stage race Transalp. I’d be racing the mixed category with British National Champion Sally Bigham. I’d never ridden the race before, and had little time to prepare, I only found out Tuesday that I’d be racing and flew out Friday! Fortunately Sally is an experienced stage racer. With her knowledge and the assistance of her professional team we were in a great position for the week ahead.

“I’d met all the riders and staff from Sally’s team before but it was a great experience to spend the week with such world class athletes. Sally, Alban Lakata, Kristian Hynek and the staff did everything they could to help me feel part of the team. After much rushing around it was great to be in Oberammergau, Germany for the start of the race. I didn’t know what to expect in terms of result but knew Sally wouldn’t want to finish off the podium. I also didn’t know the competition but at least I was riding with the strongest female. Ahead lay 7 stages, 590 kilometres and 20,000 metres of climbing.

“I’d never ridden with Sally before but we clicked really quickly, we made a great start on stage 1 putting us into the lead. It’s much easier to control the race from the front so we pushed on to open a gap finishing 9 minutes ahead of second place! Stage 2 was difficult with weather conditions turning cold and very wet, it was pretty miserable and really not a day you’d want to ride 87 kilometres through the mountains. Even so we survived and extended our lead in the general classification. Having the support staff on days like stage 2 made such a difference, whether it’s out on the track with spare clothing/ bottles/ equipment, at the finish with the dry arena setup and warm food, having the mechanics to strip and rebuild the bikes, and finally the physio to do massage/ repair broken bodies.

“From stage 3 we began to ride a bit more conservatively reducing risks of crashing or having mechanicals. We actually ended up extending our advantage in the general classification steadily throughout the week winning the mixed category in every stage apart from stage 6! Having never ridden in a race leaders jersey it was some experience to lead such a huge race from stage 1.

“There were some great trails throughout the week and absolutely stunning mountains views. The race was hard work but we had a good laugh, the highlights being Sally almost running over a chicken, quite dangerous at the time but funny to look back on. Another particularly funny moment came in latter stages of day 5 where I was struggling and needed food, I asked Sally for something, she mistakenly passed me a banana skin which she thought was a gel, what was I supposed to do with a banana skin I was thinking!

“Sadly terrible weather greeted riders on the morning of stage 7, the final day. Riding into Riva del Garda is normally all about ice cream and jumping into the warm lake. This seemed very unlikely however as we climbed the first mountain into the clouds of lightning and thunder! It was a little scary! I was sure they’d end the stage at the top of the mountains but back down the mountain we raced. It was raining so hard on the first tarmac part of the descent that you couldn’t see more than a meter ahead. Once offroad again the trails were like rivers, we slipped down the hill trying to stay warm. Once in the next valley the weather did begin to improve. Once over the next climb Riva de Garda was in sight and only then did I start to believe we would win our mixed category.

“We won Europe’s biggest mountain bike stage race! 6 out of 7 stages and the overall mixed classification was ours! There were smiles all around because my teammates for the week Alban and Krystian racing the men’s pairs also won stage 7, a well deserved victory for them after some bad luck earlier in the race.

“Racing the Transalp is an experience I will remember for a long time. It was such an honour to race with Sally and her team, thanks to the whole team for looking after me and giving me the opportunity. My Scott Scale was the perfect bike for this race, light, comfortable and robust, throughout 600km and 20000m of ascent we experienced zero mechanicals. We’ve been on a journey and survived, Transalp 2014 done!”

Next weekend (3rd August) Ben will be riding the Scott MTB Marathon in Drumlanrig, Scotland.

Thanks to our fantastic sponsors for their continued support.

 

Follow the team on facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mountain-Trax-Vauxhall-Motors-Cycling- T eam/330790256947713

 

Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Motors Cycling Team Rider Roster.

Ben Thomas, Isaac Pucci, Sam Stean, Tim Dunford

 

Words – Ben Thomas

 

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