Finally I got around to visiting Sweden to visit friends who moved out here from the UK a couple of years ago. They cycle as well so we timed the trip with a race weekend and choose the Borlange Tour 3 day race. The journey to the race was pretty substantial with a car journey to Gatwick, a flight to Copenhagen, a train to Lund Sweden (where by friends Warren, Malin and Hilda live), then a 7 hour drive the next day up to Borlange. At least the car journey was a great way to see the picturesque Swedish countryside. Motorways don’t really exist anywhere north of Stockholm so it was single carriageway for a few hundred kilometres! Day 1 the race was a 700 metre timetrial followed by an eliminator which the top 12 from the timetrial qualified for. Having not ridden the day before and only done recovery miles since last weekend’s stage race in Belgium the legs weren’t really prepared for a race pace effort, that and messing up a corner was enough to put me 1 second outside of the qualification. An early shower for me on day 1. Malin won the Masters women’s race and the leader’s jersey so we still had a happy camper van. Day 2 was a traditional 1 hour 30 cross country event over 6 laps. I was a little worried that I’d left my legs in Belgium but the pressure was on to get a decent result following Malin finishing 2nd and Warren taking the Master’s leaders jersey earlier in the day.”
Off the line I got the ￼￼￼￼elbows out and moved up from the poor gridding position I had into 3rd place going into the first downhill. The legs were there but I was hitting max heart rate a little too often, maybe because of the 30 centigrade heat. Even so I was just about comfortable enough to hold the wheels even on the steep sprint climbs. By the end of lap 1 I was in the lead group of 3 which included the leader’s jersey. This stayed together until lap 5 where Lars Bleckur let a gap go on one of the rough rooty singletrack climbs. I chased Emil Linde in the leader’s jersey but couldn’t close the gap during the next lap.
Happy to be on the podium, a satisfactory day for Malin, Warren and me. Today I knew it would be hard work to take back 1 minute on Emil during a 1 hour criterium race but it would be good to battle with Emil for the win. We would race 6 x 3.6km laps. Sadly Emil was just too strong on the early laps and got a gap by the end of lap 2. After day 2 the general classification was close between me and the 3rd and 4th place riders so after Emil gapped us I just rode safe and sat on these 2 riders wheels. Overnight we’d had 2 thunder storms roll through the area so the loose soil of yesterday was gone and there was huge traction coming from the Schwalbe Rocket Ron tyres. Going onto lap 6 not much had changed, 1 or 2 attacks from our group had been neutralised so we were still together.
The pace felt relatively relaxed at this point and 2 riders were about to catch us. On the very last climb I felt strong enough to attack over the top into a long piece of singletrack. I gave it all I could all the way to the log jumps and 180 turn next to the arena, here I could see I had a gap but it wasn’t much so I had to keep the power on all the way to the finish. Job done with 2nd today and 2nd in the general classification. Malin finished 2nd in the Masters race today and 2nd overall. Warren won again today and took home the Masters general classification jersey. Both now lead the Swedish Cup standings, good work! An enjoyable and successful weekend of racing. I went into the event with little expectation or pressure but it was good to have a decent result and put on a good showing for the Brits. The commentator seemed to enjoy have a foreigner visiting which meant the team got plenty of shout outs. Maybe I’ll come back next year to try to win that purple leaders jersey!