Stage 4’s Pursuit was definitely one of the toughest race I’ve ever experienced. With the race being run on a 4km lap, and our 30 athlete strong wave starting 5min behind the leader, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to waste before you could be potentially lapped off and pulled out of the tour entirely! This was a high stress situation, and every one of us 30 athletes was feeling the same thing. As a result, the pace over the first 4km was hot, so hot in fact that we almost caught up to the wave that started 30s in front of us. This fast pace really took it’s toll and for the second lap, I was really battling to regain control. I was in survival mode, just forcing myself to hang onto the pack that was quickly getting smaller with people dropping off quickly. It hurt more than I have ever dealt with in any race and it certainly wouldn’t have looked pretty as it felt as though I almost entirely lost control of my technique but I managed to hang in there until the pace settled ever so slightly for the 3rd lap.
Finishing that third lap came with a great relief, however turns out we had skied so fast that we weren’t even close to being lapped off! It was all down to achieving that best placing possible. I came good for the second last climb and went with the faster guys in the pack, but it quickly became too much on the final part of the loop. I lost a few places in that final part of the race, however finished 69th, only 2 minutes and 50 seconds back off the winners time. This was one of my best distance results this season and is right up there with my best in terms of percentage back! I improved my rank to 73 and find myself right in there with some talented athletes.
The efforts of that 16km really took it’s toll. Yesterday for the travel day I felt completely burnt out and with a long travel day, I felt far from rested afterwards! After a solid 10.5hr sleep (which is almost a record for me!) I felt dramatically better in today’s pre-race session, however could certainly still feel the fatigue in my legs along with the strain on my lungs from the altitude. It’s a demanding schedule for this tour, and it’s a bit of a competition to see which athletes survive the best. Tomorrow’s Classic Sprint will be the first of 4 stages to be held here in Canmore and with a backdrop like this, life is pretty great!