Sakakibara Race Report - UCI World Cup Rounds 1-2 - Paris, France
After ﬁnishing our racing in Verona, we packed our bags (ﬁnished packing around 1.00am) to catch an early ﬂight to Paris in preparation for the World Cup season opener. This was the ﬁrst time that the World Cup had a stop in Paris - the track was very technical and tight, and consequently racing was very close all weekend.
We followed the same pattern as Verona leading into our World Cup weekend. Fly in Monday, light practice Tuesday and Wednesday, tourism on Thursday, then oﬃcial practice + racing from Friday over the weekend. We did have some rain and some very cold days through the week, but luckily there was no rain on the race days and wind was very minimal.
It was a mixed weekend for me - riding well enough, but just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and ending my day earlier than I wanted on both days.
On the ﬁrst day, a very rough run in the 1/16 Finals coming together with other riders, left with a slow lap time, and consequently a late lane choice in the 1/8 Final. This coupled with an average start from the outside lane put me in 5th coming out of the ﬁrst corner in the 1/8 Final. I wasn’t ready to be in this position and panicked, making an inside move in the second corner that lead to me sliding out and ending my day here.
It was a very disappointing day for me, but I was very pleased with my ability to be mature about the situation and shift my focus to a better performance on day 2.
It was a much better day for me on Sunday, coming in with a refreshed mindset. Again, racing was tight, but I was in control with what I was doing. There was one incident in the 1/8 Final where my back wheel spun on the gate during the call, and I did my start with my pedals in the completely wrong position, but I managed the situation to qualify through to the 1/4 Final.
My start was solid in the 1/4 Final, but I over jumped the ﬁrst jump, and I was in the middle of the pack into the ﬁrst corner. I high- lowed and got myself into 4th, but had to move over abruptly towards the inside of the second corner to stop anyone from coming past, and consequently my line around the corner wasn’t very good. I was still in 4th around the last corner and down the last straight, but Edzus Treimanis had really gained momentum through the last two straights and passed me right on the line… By 0.06 seconds.
The end result was obviously heartbreaking, but I have to be happy with my riding from the weekend. I put myself into more trouble than necessary by not holeshotting these races, but I really felt that I made clever decisions around the track that I never have been able to do at this level.
There are a few things to clean up for me, but I’m in great form. Looking forward to more racing.
I was feeling pretty conﬁdent on the track and I was getting through the technical sections on the track quite easily. Weather conditions were cold so it was a challenge to keep my legs warm before rolling onto the gate. I won my qualifying moto and my 1/8th ﬁnal and I was into the quarter ﬁnal.
My gates started to improve at this point after struggling with it earlier and I was getting more conﬁdent to charge down the hill elbow to elbow with fast girls next to me. I was in 2nd place around the track looking to pass the Russian girl and I made my move from the outside on the 3rd straight. A little smoother line did the trick! Another ﬁrst qualiﬁer for the semi ﬁnal!
Finally my gates were back on track and I had a sweet lap for my semi, ﬁnishing the lap in the lead again. I was stoked that I made the ﬁnal!
I was 2nd qualiﬁer I was surprisingly very calm at the top of the hill. I had a good gate and I took a tight inside line and I was in 3rd place. I was catching up quickly on each straight on the inside, ready for the pass but I didn’t back myself enough to squeeze in the tight line and make the pass. I crossed the ﬁnish line stoked to make the podium! But I knew that, that race wasn’t the best of my ability.
I was happy with Round 1 results but I was keen to step it up again and improve in Round 2. I won my qualifying moto which put me in a good vibe coming into the rest of the day.
Some riders pulled out of racing for Round 2 so there was only quarter ﬁnals for women. I was struggling with my gates again which was very annoying but I made it through my quarter with a win and I qualiﬁed 2nd for my semi. I got into 2nd place behind Elke Vanhoof and I got passed by another Russian on the second turn. 3rd place ﬁnish for my semi.
I was 4th qualiﬁer for the ﬁnal and I was again pretty calm now that my gates have improved and I had a little more conﬁdence up my sleeve. I switched on and had a good gate but I was boxed in a little bit again by the same two riders as Round 1. But I headed toward the inside of the ﬁrst corner, aiming to swoop under Laura. I was just short of getting Laura so I was in 2nd place. She was pulling away but I was determined to aim for the win. I caught up and my last chance was the last straight. I was close but not close enough and ﬁnished 2nd.
Deﬁnitely so much to gain and learn from this weekend of racing. I’m slowly seeing myself more race aware and looking for moves when I’m behind a rider - which is my goal for this year. I’m looking forward to more racing ahead!