Last Saturday, 10.03.2018, the 2018 competition season started for the WHEELER Pro Team. One month earlier than usual, the first race of the UCI World Cup took place in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
In order to prepare optimally for the hot temperatures of winter, the team met on March 2 for joint preparation. For once under the direction of Assistant Team Manager Jürg Ryf. The preparation was optimal. The athletes had the very demanding, slippery track "under control" and you could be curious what is possible in the race. Always under the aspect that the season until the climax in September with the home world championship on the Lenzerheide is still long and an early form can hardly be preserved until this.
The 2018 racing season allowed our U23 athlete, Ramona Kupferschmied, to open at 08.30. After completing her leg extension surgery, she was looking forward to her performance. Finally, optimal ergonomics! With start number 20, she was able to join the climb in midfield. Already in the 2nd ascent pulled one competitor after another past her. With the plan in the downhill to close the gap, she kept her own rhythm. Unfortunately she could not close the gap to the group in front of her in the following descent. No one was in front of her and behind her. So Ramona made lonely rounds and the fighting spirit gave way to resignation. In the preparation everything was done right and still it did not go as planned. How do I handle this?
After a short analysis, it will now be about focusing on the next race and not let go of the concept. And yes, "the season lasts a long time until the climax, the World Cup".
At 10.15, Joris Ryf was allowed to open his World Cup season. Joris, already in the third and most important U23 year. Started with start number 16 (70 starts) from the second row, Joris Ryf had developed optimal conditions. Not least thanks to his victory at the Snow Bike Festival in Gstaad.
Joris came off well at the start and was finally not involved in a starting jog. After the start loop, he was ranked 20th In the second lap, he lost something for his first lap and had trouble finding the rhythm. "I had to suffer really hard". From the third round Joris could then find his rhythm, catch up with a large group in front of him and push ahead for space. On the last lap he was able to overtake 2 other rivals and reached the finish as a good 22 nd and second best Swiss! Joris is very pleased with his season opener, although he had targeted the top 16. "It was a lot of fun for me and it was really cool," Joris reported. The result can expect a lot for the further races.
The last of the team was at 14.50 clock Manuel Fasnacht at the start. After he broke off his racing season (overtraining) in May 2017, he was curious what his debut as a newcomer to the elite. With start number 93 (!) At the start it was probably the goal to drive into the points. Not an easy task on a course known to be difficult to overtake. Here is his report: "From the last row I went to my first elite UCI World Cup race without a specific goal, although I had secretly hoped for a top 60 (points in the elite) placement, even though I knew this would not be easy Start, as I thought, with a lot of crowding and traffic jams, and when I had free rein, I was able to make up some places and was surprised when I suddenly saw on the scoreboard that I was in the top 60. I gave everything up to the finish and finished 58th best Swiss newcomer in the elite, I am very satisfied with this performance I have now a first positioning on which I can build.
It continues for the whole WHEELER Pro team including Luca Schätti at the Swiss Bike Cup race in Rivera on April 8th. The results achieved in South Africa leave much to be desired.