Race Report: Stage 1 - Club La Santa Stage Race
Situated on the volcanic Isle of Lanzarote, the Club La Santa 4 day MTB Stage race is becoming the essential early season opener for Elite XC racers from around the world. The dry, volcanic terrain combines with steep technical climbs and savage winds to help blow away those remaining winter cobwebs, and is a perfect warm up for those looking to build toward the Legendary ABSA Cape Epic.
Chris Noble, riding for Strada Wheels / Torq Nutrition, packed his quick legs, strapped on a race number and kindly agreed to report back on his 2015 Club La Santa experience. Check out how Chris got on during Stage 1...
"I arrived a few days before the start, I had a nice social ride the day before to loosen the legs up and check condition of the hill time trial route for the 3rd stage. In one word... windy! Getting blown of the trail is always tough going, but good to check conditions. It was helpful to check the effects of using my new Absolute Black oval chainring, so far i’ve liked the helping hand it gives on climbs and flat sections.
To the first stage, we had a nice leisurely 10:30am start, I started on the 3rd row of the non seeded riders, the start felt more reserved than last year, but it still required some evasive action as we started the first off-road section, where I had to avoid a pro with a shredded front tyre!
I knew from the last year the importance of getting in a good group, I quickly made my way through a few and pushed hard to catch a four man group just ahead, I managed to just pass Ant White on my way through, this group seemed a good place to stay, we did a few turns on the front, I eased the pace slightly to let Ant jump on back, we caught a few more riders ahead so the group gained strength. The trouble with racing in Lanzarote is the huge sand traps that really slow the pace, I’ve yet the master the skill of riding through them with dabbing, especially when they’re at the top of a heart busting climb, a quick dismount was required, but the group stayed together.
The fast pace continued for the whole stage, I was having to work super hard to stay on riders wheels, and take my turn on the front! the second half of the 40km stage had a few short fast climbs, but the group remained together and I was able to recover on the longer climbs. As we approached the last 5km of the course the group opened slightly but I was conscious I didn’t want to get dropped now! with just a few km remaining we entered the last section of single track, near the coast dodging through lava boulders i eased the pace slightly, trying to avoid any silly mistakes. I rolled in 1hour 31mins, few seconds behind Ant and 14th Elite, 36th overall, god the old boys are fast!
Second stage tomorrow is 60km and passes though the national park, I enjoyed the stage last year, but I remember getting isolated a few times, I have to make sure this doesn’t happen again!! Plus its longer which should suit my diesel heart."
Words - Chris Noble