After two consecutive years of rain Leonie, Markus, and I firmly stated that we wouldn’t ride the Arlberg Giro in 2017. But then it got close to Arlberg Giro time and the temptation became too much especially as we were able to get some cheap tickets and the race is a good deal with a complimentary cycling jersey for all finishers (actually all starters).
So Leonie and I drove to Sankt Anton on Saturday morning planning to do a via ferrata route in the area but then I realised that I had forgotten my equipment so instead we spent the entire day lazing by the tent in Petteneu. Also good. We were even too lazy to watch the pro criterium.
The alarm went off at the happy hour of 4 am. We rolled out of bed and by 5:15 am we were riding up the valley to the start line. As we had registered late we had been placed in Block 4 and couldn’t change. We had originally thought we’d skip the race then as starting at the back of the field isn’t the best way to get a good time. We decided though that we could at least ride it as a training ride.
There was a 10 minute gap between each start block so I didn’t think we’d have a chance to catch Block 3. I was very wrong. I started at the front of our group and we followed the pace bike out of Sankt Anton onto the main road. I increased the pace and started passing the back of Block 3. I rode pretty hard up the pass and it wasn’t too long before I was passing people from Block 2. At around 10 minutes before the top I passed the first guy from Block 1. Hmm…
I rode through the short tunnel before the top of the pass and couldn’t believe it when I got out the otherside. Rain??! The Arlberg Giro weather strikes again. I pulled my jacket on while riding and started the wet descent. I was a bit cautious through the tunnels and on the corners not wanting to slide out. A pretty ok bunch formed and the descent continued. I managed to mess up a right hand bend into a bridge and had to break heavily causing my back wheel to bounce slightly. But all was ok and we continued.
The ride up the valley to the Bielerhoehe climb was ok. Not much to report. I usually don’t stop at the drink stations on this race. At least not before the pass but decided I needed a boost so got some cola. It helped a bit perhaps but I was feeling a bit light headed by the time I reached the top of the climb. The ascent had been a bit slow. In fact it was 5 minutes slower than last year.
I found a couple of strong riders on the descent and we motored until we caught up to a bunch. The bunch slowed us down and didn’t work well together but I was feeling like I needed a rest so didn’t do any towing.
The last ascent up the valley to Sankt Anton went well. I didn’t get dropped like some years. The organizers had added some nasty tricks though and we had perhaps anothe 75 m of extra climbing as we were rerouted off the main road twice through some small villages. Still I survived to the finish. I got a bit blocked by someone in front of me before the finish sprint and lost the first few guys but still had an ok sprint, hmmm, except for another guy who blocked me just before the line. Ok, maybe not such a good sprint.
I was pretty happy with my time. I finished in under 4 hours 56 minutes which was pretty good considering I started in block 4 and it rained on Arlberg Pass. I guess the rain really makes quite a different to the time. Maybe if it hadn’t rained on Arlberg Pass I would have been a few minutes faster. I was still about 10 minutes slower than 2013 and this year I was 5 minutes slower on the bielerhoehe climb than last year. Maybe because Markus wasn’t chasing me 🙂 We had a little bit more climbing this year on the last ascent due to the diversion through the small villages. Hard to tell. I wasn’t too displeased anyway.
Leonie also had a good race and finished in 5 hours 38 minutes.