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On the weekend I competed in my first German Bundesliga race for the year. It was in my team's hometown of Witten, on a challenging course with a novel format that, to be honest, was a little bit crazy. The race was essentially 2 races in one - a team relay in the morning and then a team time trial (TTT) in the afternoon.  This made for exciting racing for both athletes and spectators alike.  In the morning each team athlete completed a 200m swim in a 25m temporary pool, then on to a 3 lap (5k) bike followed by a 2 lap (1.3k) run, then tags the next team member.  Short fast and very technical!  In the afternoon TTT, all 5 of the team start together and 4 must finish together - the clock stopping when the 4th athlete crosses the line. The teams performance in the morning dictated where the team started in the afternoon. The TTT followed the  same course but the distance increased 300m swim, 8-lap bike and a 5-lap run.


For the relay, Thomas Springer kicked off for us, then tagged Matthias Zoll (the team captain).  Matthias tagged Sebastian Rank who high-fived me onto the fourth leg.  I then tagged Christian Prochnow for the anchor leg.  It was a strong order, which I believe utilised our combined strengths well.  The guys before me did a great job and set me off in equal first place.  I hit the pool, had a good swim and stayed with the athlete from the other team (Hansgrohe).  We jumped out and I had an ok transition, but momentarily lost the jump on the Hansgrohe athlete.


Onto the bike and I made sure I gave it full gas. I caught the Hansgrohe athlete just outside the transition exit and sneaked past him out of the first corner.  It helped that I was familiar with the bike course from the previous year, so I decided to push really hard going up the hill the first time.  The German fans love this great sport and they were very vocal in their support.  And it helped!  I managed to open up a gap of approximately a minute over the chasing teams.  In these short sharp races, I believe that you have to chase every second and make it hurt.  I had a great transition and was out on the run.


The first 25m of the run was on grass, that felt like it had a few recent battles with some tractors and a plough - lumpy and uneven.

The course then hits a nasty gravel hill, that burns your legs, and then a long gentle downhill that forces you to turn your legs over    faster than they would like.  My Saucony Type A2's really come into their own when tested like that - they are just built for speed. I held the time gap on the run and handed over to Christian.  I was in a world of hurt!  Christian is a top top athlete and he eventually brought Witten home in first place.


The afternoon TTT started with Witten having a 26 second head start on Hansgrohe who, in turn, had a 2 second head start on Buschhutten (reflecting our respective finishing positions in the morning relay).  It was going to be an exciting afternoon, with some close racing.  In a perfect world, we needed Hansgrohe to finish in front of Buschhutten, in order to improve our position in the Series standings.  We pushed the swim but stayed together as a team and then put the foot down on the bike.  We felt that we had a strong group of bikers and we wanted to use that to our advantage.  We worked perfectly as a team, swapping turns on the bike and with the stronger cyclists taking more turns in order to to really keep the pace up.


We had an amazing crowd pushing us and it made the world of difference up the hill each time. We jumped off the bike and wanted to finish with 5 athletes to really show how strong our team is. I was at my limit on the first 3 laps of the run but I knew that it would make me stronger in the long term.  On the fourth lap Christian picked up the pace again and I really had to push myself as hard as I could to stay with him.  The fifth lap was a bit easier and we made sure that we had a great celebration at the finish line as we crossed in first place.  Team Witten, two wins in two years.  A great bunch of guys and a great home town crowd.



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