Compared to the race in Val di Sole the previous week, Lenzerheide set itself apart through less steep climbs, yet countless root packed sections. Due to the frequent rain showers during the World Cup week, the conditions constantly changed and the athletes had to adapt to the challenging conditions.
Barbara Benko, after various warning signs, decided to skip the race and focus on the rest of the season: “Looking back, I made a few mistakes getting ready for the season, and now, I can only try to correct these by taking a break. Naturally, it is not easy to observe from the outside, but I wanted to spend the week with the team and the ladies represented our team very well. I am so proud of everyone and happy to be a part of it at a time like this. I will fully focus on the last major races and I hope to attack full force again.”
Lisa Pasteiner had a very good feeling on the technically difficult terrain all week and probably would have been looking forward to even more slippery conditions. At the beginning of the race, the Austrian athlete barely hung on in the TOP10, but suffered from stomach problems and couldn’t push herself to her limit: “All this probably saved me today. When all others pushed themselves too hard, I was unable to keep up. Only when my stomach problems let up somewhat, things went well again.” With the fastest lap time of all, she fought for a finish within podium territory, even though she didn’t even realize herself at first: “After I passed the fourth placed rider and pursued another rider with probably around 10 seconds ahead of me, it didn’t sink in that this is a battle for a podium finish at first. It is possible that I was missing about 15 meters in the end. But I am so happy with my race. Last year, I was only at 80%. The week was awesome and I am happy to live up to my potential!”
At the XCC race on Friday, Anne Terpstra secured seventh place and Sina Frei finished in 14th place – good starting positions for both of them. Both team mates were major players in the XCO race on Sunday. Right from the start, Anne Terpstra competed as part of the lead group consisting of Jenny Rissveds, Pauline Ferrand Prevot and the local hero Jolanda Neff. After numerous back-and-forths, Terpstra and Rissveds managed to escape the competition and battle for victory among themselves with the Dutch looking like the stronger rider for a long time:
“I am very happy with my race and wouldn’t have believed such a result even yesterday. Up until the last lap, the race went perfectly, but Jenny then attacked. I made a small mistake and wasn’t able to close the gap anymore. No reason to be unhappy about it, the season so far is going sensationally well and this weekend is proof. I want to expressly say “Thank You” to the entire team. This week, I certainly didn’t make it easy on any of them and everybody has supported me so well making the team result possible. Congratulations to Sina! To finish the race as the best Swiss rider on the podium in front of this crazy crowd is just very, very special. What a success for us!”
Sina Frei, after her courageous finish, needed to lie down behind the finish line for a few seconds before recovering enough to get back up. She fought for fifth place for a long time and even managed to move up to fourth place during the sprint finish: “The start wasn’t that great. One competitor got off the bike in front of me forcing to get off as well to get around her. But from then on, I found a good rhythm and succeeded on moving up further. I had hoped that a few athletes would not be able to keep up with their pace and that did happen indeed. That’s how I was able to move up closer and closer to the podium.”
The backdrop of the Swiss mountains was, as always, absolutely deafening and the approx. 30 000 Swiss cheered on their U23 World Champion runner-up like nobody’s business: “The spectators are simply unbelievable. Without a doubt, their support pushed me a few percentage points ahead. To be able to stand on the podium together with Anne has been our goal since the start of the season, but had not happened yet. So cool that it finally did happen. To win the team ranking on top of everything else and to be able to stand on the podium with the entire team was more than a super finish to the week!”
The team will now travel to Canada for the World Championships and then directly to the World Cup final in Snowshoe in the US.