Dear friends of the Merkur Cycling Team, On Saturday, a GCC race took place on the professional route in Baunatal on the occasion of the German Road Cycling Championships for professionals. We arrived on Friday evening after work and got ready for the next day with dinner together. Still a bit stressed from the work week, most of us fell into bed exhausted after dinner. Since the race didn't start until 15:30 p.m. on Saturday, we had the opportunity to sleep in comfortably and enjoy an extensive breakfast. This was a real luxury compared to other GCC races, which often start very early and, as a result, breakfast often falls at 7 a.m. or earlier.
After our morning brunch, the work stress was gone and the race day mode was activated. So off on the bikes, we used the time until the start to drive the lap and get a first impression of the route. It quickly became clear to us that the course was not nearly as flat as announced. The three climbs of the loop weren't long, but they shouldn't be underestimated either. When we arrived back at the finish line, we paid another visit to the Lawi booth and got the final instructions for the race from Enrico Poitschke, our sports director.
By now it was 12 o'clock, just the right time to grab another bite of pasta before the final preparations for the race began. So we sat together until 2 a.m., ate and relaxed. It's always been something special to spend time with such a committed team, you get to know each other so well during the training camps and races that you often understand each other without words, and the fun and shared humor intensifies with every weekend together. This is particularly noticeable when topics outside of cycling are discussed during such relaxation phases. It is really a great pleasure to be part of this team. I would like to thank both my teammates and our sponsors, who make this possible.
The time flew by and suddenly we had to change clothes again and jump on our Fujis. 30 minutes before the start we gathered at the starting line and realized to our shock that the weather gods had bad plans for us. Because shortly before the start it started pouring rain and there was water on the street. Faces grew long across the field. But it doesn't help, a race is a race and the same conditions apply to everyone.
Kick-off and off we went. Due to the wet roads, the corners were taken very carefully, but as was not to be expected, there was immediate tension in the field and already in the first lap there were many attacks and the teams tried to get into a good starting position. We too had planned to initiate a leading group in order to put the other teams under pressure. Depending on the composition of the group, the first attempts to break away were either made by us or by our competitors. But at some point the time had come, Alexander Loos made the decisive start on the steepest section of the route. Christian Dengler and I followed suit when other drivers tried to catch up with Alex. From that point on, we were on the road as a lead group of seven. With three men, we clearly had the upper hand, so it was our task, especially at the beginning of the escape, to ensure speed. However, we still had more than half of the race ahead of us. The group ran more homogeneously with every meter of the track and the other drivers at least started to go through the lead.
When we were halfway through the last lap, it was certain that with our starting position we would definitely achieve the main goal of the team classification. On the steepest part of the race I tried to increase the speed again and put the other drivers under pressure, but it quickly became clear that nobody would show any weakness at this point. Seven kilometers before the finish on the last climb, Christian tried again to get a small lead, but this attempt was immediately neutralized by the other drivers. So it all came down to the final kilometers and Alexander did a great job keeping the pace up to set me up for the sprint.
Unfortunately, things don't always go as they should and in this case it was my legs that threw a spanner in the works. When Christian Müller (Bürstner-Dümo) and Paul Sicking (Lock8) attacked again shortly before the sprint, my legs cramped and I was able to stop Christian Müller's attack, but when Paul Sicking started I could only watch as the hole grew meter by meter. In the last few meters, Alexander Loos once again underlined his great form and, despite all the work he had done, achieved an excellent third place behind Paul Sicking and Marek Malouszczak. The good starting position and superior numbers that we had created promised a little more and in this case it's my fault that we didn't get more out of it, I would like to apologize to my team for that. However, we are still satisfied with the day's success in the team and Alex's third place and are now looking forward to the four-week GCC break.
The next upcoming race at the Nürburgring is already a classic of German amateur sport and definitely one of the most demanding. We will now prepare extensively for it. For some, the preparations in the Alps for the Tour Transalp have already begun. Christian Dengler starts with our former teammate Boris Halsner and Daniel Knyss and Manfred Böhm went south as supervisors and will of course also use the time and the mountains for training. We report daily on our Facebook page about the Tour Transalp and you will soon hear from us again when we are at the start of the 24-hour race in Kehlheim.
Until then, I wish you a lot of fun training and a nice start into the summer.