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Andalucían Gold!

Having won the Andalucía Bike Race  in 2011, 2012 and 2013, it was no secret that Sally was excited at the prospect of winning a fourth time... 

  

With Sally's Cape Epic partner racing at Cyprus, she was fortunate to be able to pair up with Swiss rider, Katrin Leumann. 

Sally - Kicking off with a 50km TT in the mountains around Jaen, we were quickly introduced to the steep climbs which would feature throughout the 6 days - off with the 32T front chainring and on with the 30T! As the favourites, we started last and had the advantage of chasing down the other teams - much better to chase rather than be chased in my opinion! We didn't hold back and set a fast pace comfortably putting us in the green leader jerseys. 

The second stage was just 76km, but packed in 2600m of steep climbing. Katrin - an XC specialist - is new to stage racing and doesn't train for long distances or multi-day events, so throughout the race my role was to help her conserve energy whenever possible. As an excellent technical rider, her role was to lead in the downhills, picking the best lines for me to follow. This strategy worked really well and we took our second stage win. The third stage (72km, 1800m) took us to a different venue, Andujar, which allowed us to race on some stunning trails, including one long descent down an old Roman road with twists, turns, rocks and drops. The final 3 stages (all varying between 70 and 90km) all started and finished in the historical city Cordoba, where a myriad of trails - both flowing and technical - can be found in the nearby mountains. 
 

With no immediate pressure from the other teams were we able to ride without risk, but on the 4th stage we could have seen the end of our race when, on the last technical descent to the finish, a rock flicked up into my front wheel breaking two spokes and puncturing the rim tape. The tyre immediately deflated. Working together we quickly removed the broken spokes, put in a tube and rolled to the finish taking another stage win. 

On the final day we timed our race to perfection, crossing the finish line just as the first rain drops started to fall! Winning my fourth ABR together with Katrin was pretty cool. We didn't have immediate pressure from other teams, which is actually a shame, because it would be much more fun to have tighter, more exciting racing. I'd love to see more elite women's teams lining up and making an interesting battle. Riding comfortably in the lead does have it's advantages for me at this point - now I'm not totally exhausted and I can continue with my preparation for my first big goal of the season: the Cape Epic starting on Sunday 13th March. Stay tuned!

  

As always a big thanks for your support! The TORQ Chews went down a treat and I'm looking forward to using them at the Cape Epic.