Let me just start by saying…simply…I am still over the moon with my 2nd place finish in the Züri Metzgete. I never imagined I’d be able to ride a bike that fast – that’s the truth!
After the 2nd place finish in the Endadin Radmarathon in early July I knew that I could place well in the Züri Metzgete. However, being just one week before the Inferno Triathlon I had to make a tough choice. Train to do well in the Inferno Triathlon or prioritize the Metzgete and train to do well in that event. I chose the former….for a few reasons – the most obvious being the distinct possibility of a top 3 finish in the cycle race and the unlikelihood of beating the likes of Andrea Huser (& Co.) in the Inferno Triathlon.
The choice was a smart one and resulted in a 2nd place in the Züri Metzgete – one of the biggest road races on the amateur calendar in Switzerland.
Although I didn’t stop running and swimming completely I prioritized bike riding in the run up to the Züri Metzgete and put in a lot of time in the saddle. The week before the race I didn’t feel great. But I have always found it hard to judge the difference between legs not ‘feeling’ great and legs actually not ‘being’ great – so I didnt take all that much notice and got on with the program.
Racing for Steiner Cycle Team (STCT)
Come race morning everything was in place. I drove to the start and got suited up. I picked up the race number and just before I was about to set out on my warm up I received a phone call Yves Covi asking me if I would like to race in their team colours! This was great news! I had been in touch with Yves since we met at the Engadin Radmarathon about the possibility of riding for his team Steiner Cycling Team (STCT) next season. This was the confirmation and the Metzgete would be my first race for them – already in 2012! As soon as I put on the STCT uniform quite a few heads began to turn – I guess those colors command respect among local riders as they have dominated the scene completely this year.
A quick change of uniform and on with the program. Then disaster struck – I noticed my rear tyre had lost a lot of pressure. On a closer check I discovered a puncture. Tubular tyres. Not good. 35 minutes before the start. Pit Stop in hand. Race back to the race centre to find someone to help or had more experience with tubular punctures. Located my friend Peter. Pit Stop injected. Pit Stop not enough. Still punctured. Shit.
I saw one of the guys on my new team who I hadn’t even formally met before, and asked him if he had a spare tubular tyre (tall request) he said no but brought me back to the team car. Within 15 minutes the tyre had been replaced and I was good to go. Forever in debt and still a little embarassed to have met my new teammates in such a situation – the way they stepped in immediately to help me get to the start just confirmed the positive image I have of this super team!
I was starting in the B Group (there are wave starts with about 1 minute in between each group). I looked around to see the other women and familiarize myself with their colours. Because I was late in due to the puncture fisaco I wasn’t at the front of the group but I was pretty sure I had seen all the women at the start. After the gun went I picked out another STCT guy and spent the first 20km more or less in the lead group with him. I knew that I was probably working too hard but there wasn’t another option as the average speed wasn’t as fast as I would have liked and every time we dropped back into the pack the speed would decrease. Not good. When we got to the first hill I stood up most of the way to keep with the first group and descend with them. I noticed there was also another girl hanging around and I didn’t want that! The remainder of the first lap was pretty uneventful until I realised at the end of it that the same girl was still really close to me! I couldn’t believe it! I had been working hard and she was still there. A feeling of despair crept in and I began to ask myself “could I do it?” I couldn’t go much faster. But I decided to bide my time, take it down a notch, hide a little in the pack and attack on the hills – for they are my strength.
Sure enough, my plan worked. On the second ascent of Sigrisdorf I opened up a lead, got in with a good group of guys and we kept pushing all the way to the last ascent of Regensberg. I looked back a few times in between and I didn’t see my rival so I knew I could be home-free, I just needed to get over Regensberg, empty the tank on that, then empty it more and I’d be on the home stretch! Sure enough, that worked! When I approached the last stretch to the finish line I couldnt believe it. There I was…possibly winning the Züri Metzgete 2012! How cool!
Not First – But Second
I didn’t realise until a while after the race that I had been beaten by Tatjana Ruf! I didn’t see her at the start line at all! I can only imagine that she was right at the front of the line and sprinted with a break away group as soon as the gun went. Thus escaping from under my nose right from the beginning.
However, I wasn’t in the least disappointed. I was thrilled with my performance. I couldn’t have gone faster. The STCT team overall performed extremely well. 1st and joint 3rd place in the 160km and 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in the 106km! They are unbelieveable. Just shows what good teamwork and preparation can do.
Top top it all off the race sponsors took out full page ads in 20 Minutes, the Tages Anzeiger and some other regional publications.