World Cup 1 Maniago Italy
It’s world cup season and the first world cup of the year is set in the beautiful Italian countryside of Maniago. It is my first time traveling to Italy and I’m so excited to race in one of the most iconic cycling countries in all of the world. Italy is host to many professional cycling races so for me the chance to race here in Italy was so surreal. Last year my world cup adventures were filled with highs and lows. Highs being my bronze finish in Ostende Belgium and lows being how my fitness seemed to fall off a cliff in Canada for world cup 3 in 2022. The plan this year was to come back stronger and see what this year’s world cups had in store for me.
Arriving at the hotel just outside of Maniago the vibe of Italy was so laid back. With all businesses closing between the time of 2-5pm you could tell that Italians don’t live the busy hustle and bustle life I’m used to coming from California. It was such a nice change of pace for me and set the tone for a nice relaxed few days leading up to the first race which was a 13.6 kilometers. The Maniago time trial was one on paper that doesn’t really fit my strengths. Typically my strengths are flat technical courses or a course with rolling hills. This course had its technical aspects but there were a few hills that are longer than I typically like specifically one hill that was a few hundred meters long with a gradient of about 4 to 5 percent. Either way I was ready for the challenge and with even better fitness than last year I felt I’d be able to perform well on the course.
It was race day and the field of H3 men was very deep for the first time trial of the world cup season. The weather was horrible on this day, raining pretty hard consistently through the day. To say I wasn’t hoping it would stop for just long enough for me to race was an understatement. However, that would not be the case and I was preparing for a wet and wild time trial. From the start it was full gas up a gradual climb, my power was high and so was my confidence. As the race went on I settled in to a very fast pace considering the conditions. Approaching the most important part of the course which was the steepest hill I was still feeling strong and fresh. In order to secure a decent place I knew I’d have to punch pretty hard up the hill and keep a steady speed over the top so that’s what I did. Then it was downhill through a small Italian town and out on to a small highway. At this point of the race visibility was very low and it was a real struggle to see with mass amounts of water streaming off of my front wheel. Power was still high and I was well over half way through the course. About a hundred meters in front of me I was able to see the racer who started a full minute ahead of me so I knew my finish time would be fast. Coming into the last turn I gave it everything I had left over a very bumpy cobbled road cruising thorugh with a time of 21:51 just 36 seconds off of a podium finish. Placing 9th out of 45 athletes was a great start to the season and I was excited for the road race after a day off.
It was now April 20th and the road race was up next. Road racing in the men’s H3 class is always exciting and very dangerous at the same time. Rubbing and bumping seem to be a normal thing during these races. With 45 handcycles trying to fit on skinny Italian roads it’s bound to be a little sketchy. The road race was 5 laps around the time trial course totalling 68 kilometers of racing. From the start of this race it is full gas and it takes everything I have just to hang on to the front group. After about 2 ½ laps a front group of about 10 people formed and it was pretty intense to stay up there. Lap after lap there were very strong attacks going up the longest hill of the course and it was a struggle every lap to hang on to the group. By lap 5 I had given all I could and I wasn’t able to stick to the front group on the hill. I slowly watch the front group ride away taking my chance of being in position for a podium. I was still able to finish strong and place 10th in the road race in a very deep and competitive field. I was happy with my effort and eager to build on this performance later this year.