It had been five months since the teams last competitive outing when Seb and Hamish took to the start line in Reipertswiller, France, to test their legs and lungs for the first time in 2015. Forming the first round of the Coupe d’Alsace on the 15th March, it was the perfect opportunity for the two brothers to get their new season campaign underway.
Coming off the back of a long winter it is always interesting for the athletes to see how their, and their competitors, bodies will cope under the high intensity race conditions, and brutal demands of the modern cross-country Olympic distance race.
Seb said – “You can train hard all you like over the winter period but it is almost impossible to fully prepare yourself for that all out race intensity. I want to keep building my form as the season progresses so that I am in peak condition for my main goals in the summer months. I included less intensity this winter than previous years and also started bringing it in later. So going in to the race at Reipertswiller I knew I was in relatively good training form but unsure on my top end.”
There were no problems from the gun as both riders blasted to the front of the field from their fifth row gridding (which was not based on World Ranking as usual, but the 2014 series overall) to set a demanding pace that only two other riders could respond to.
By the end of the first lap they had whittled it down to just the two of them plus Team Hase rider Harold Flandre as the steep climbs took their toll on many of the competitors. A lap later it was Hamish who started to dangle slightly, but still sat inside the top three positions.
Hamish commented – “My pace was good but right now I’ve not quite got the speed endurance to maintain it for the full hour and half. I knew my training was a bit behind Seb’s coming in to the race so I just had to drop off slightly and ride my own rhythm. I know my body and it won’t take much over the next few weeks to be where I need to be.”
As the race progressed Seb looked in control and when the time was right he moved away from Flandre on the climbs and consolidated his lead with smooth and neat riding. He kept moving away to take the chequered flag at the finish, notching up the teams first win of the year in the very first race. Hamish suffered from a slight energy knock but still hung on for 5th, keeping both riders in the top five, in an almost perfect start to the season.
Seb – “It is always good to start the season the way you want to continue! The course was nice, with a bit of everything thrown in there, steep climbs, fun descents, fast sections, plus plenty of opportunities to pass. Hamish was riding well and it’s great we were both in the top five. It states our intent for the season! The organisers did a great job and I’m really happy to of come away with the win.”