It’s been long long overdue that I wrote an update about the Copa de España… Well, “update”… a first post in English about it actually ;) . It started four months ago and finished last weekend.
The Copa de España, literally Cup of Spain, is the Spanish national racing series, consisting of a total of nine races, which take place between April and August. A certain number of points is obtained at each race depending on position and the sum of all races decides the overall winner. There are several small Spanish teams and independent riders competing, but the two dominant forces are the Spanish UCI teams Bizkaia-Durango and Lointek, which usually take home the various jerseys and stage victories. This year things have changed a bit, but let’s start from the beginning ;) .
In November last year a little Catalan team contacted me asking if I was interested in racing with them. I didn’t really know what the Copa de España was at that moment, but it seemed like a good idea in order to gain some racing experience at a national level (after having done some races in Catalonia with the men). The goals of our team were modest in the beginning “we will try to make ourselves seen a bit… for the sponsors you know… We don’t want to drop out after the first few kilometers…” – they told me.
In our first race in April my teammate Lorena came fourth and I came second. Surprise surprise! It was a cool experience racing with girls on a national level for the first time… and feeling completely in control as far as performance was concerned! For a moment I even thought I would win the race, it was quite a spectacular finish with me catching the girl who had escaped earlier, overtaking her but then losing the sprint. The winner was not “anybody” but Mavi García, one of the world’s best duathletes AND best cyclists (she would come 3rd in the duathlon world championships and 16th in the Giro later on this year despite a mechanical).
So now that I’ve introduced some of the main characters of the story, let’s move on. The second race was a stupid flat stage, but at least it was windy so the peloton split, I got into a breakaway of four, which didn’t survive however and I finished 9th. Unfortunately Mavi crashed in this race. The third race was hilly again, and as in the first race Mavi and I formed a breakaway, with her winning by a tire’s width. Due to the result of the second stage, however, I became the leader of the general classification and was awarded the yellow jersey.
Naturally, the goal changed on that day… ;) . The next two races were flat again and without a big team around me I had to focus on the girls most “dangerous” in the GC. My results in terms of position were modest but none of the important girls got away and we managed to defend the jersey. The two races in June were hilly again and I came second and fourth, extending my lead in the GC since Mavi had been absent in two races…
At the end of June I travelled to Austria and after winning silver in the TT championships I crashed in the road race and was forced to take a break of almost three weeks… Exactly the time till the next race of the Copa de España. The three weeks were extremely hard for me. The lack of a concrete diagnosis, the fear of not being able to take part in the race and losing the Cup just before the end… Only four days before the race my condition had improved enough that I decided to start. I was happy to be there at all but felt completely out of shape… I suffered from the beginning and during the first lap I thought I would not survive the second… The course was quite demanding with several short climbs; but somehow my diesel motor hadn’t died completely and I felt better and better as the laps went by and finally crossed the line with the leading group (after Mavi who had escaped solo, as usual ;) ). I was extremely relieved! I had a very safe lead in the GC now and another three weeks to get my body more or less in shape for the final race.
The course of the last race was quite exciting, two hard climbs in the end… a bit too hard for me as it turned out. Three weeks is just not enough to rebuild the engine. I didn’t feel bad on race day, but simply didn’t have the legs to climb with the best. No excuses. I came seventh – much further back than I would have liked – but a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Finally winner of the Copa de España!!
I would have liked to finish on a high, but things don’t always work out as planned… especially in road racing. I am relieved about the overall win, but not overjoyed, knowing that in terms of perfomance I could do much better. But I will be back and stronger, it has only been the very beginning! ;)
Big congratulations to Mavi, who clearly was the strongest rider of all, winning five races of the Cup. Big congratulations to Lorena, who proved to be one of Spain’s best climbers and a fantastic teammate. I am happy and grateful about the whole experience, I learned so much, I met so many strong and inspiring people, got to know so many different regions of Spain… Thanks to everyone who has been part of the journey!!