United Kingdom

Liam Killeen discusses his National Series win at Sherwood Pines


April 26, 2012

Liam Killeen recently caught up with Giant for the second installment of his Giant Athlete Blog.

With his 2012 focus firmly on the London Olympic Games he discussed his recent win at the National Cross Country Race Series Round 1 at Sherwood Pines and XC World Cup action in the South Africa season opener.

"The 2012 mountain bike season started slightly earlier than usual for me this season. After a good road based training camp in Majorca at the end of January I was feeling strong when I travelled to Cyprus for my first MTB race of the new season. This race was the Sunshine Cup and the course was just outside Larnaca. It was well attended with national riders from all over the world looking to gain valuable UCI points for Olympic selection."

"This was my first race on my new race machine for 2012- a Giant XTC carbon 29er and it was a great start to the 2012 season to finish in 3rd place just a few seconds behind World Champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) and the Swiss Giant/Rabobank rider Fabian Giger. It was all looking good for the coming season- I was in solid race condition after winter training!"

"Next up was South Africa for the first World Cup on March 17th. I travelled to SA early in order to compete in a warm up race on the World Cup course in Pietermaritzburg. I finished 12th and was happy with how I felt after the long travel, it was valuable to get some extra race pace laps done on the new tough and technical course before the World Cup."

"The World Cup was as fast as ever if not faster! With the shorter race duration of 90mins or so, the first lap was super aggressive. I managed to hold my start place of 32nd on lap 1 and started to move through the 20’s until lap 4 when I had an unfortunate crash on a small rock section; I flipped over the bars and took the impact on my right hip and kidney area, I knew I’d done some damage but once I’d got my breath back I continued on to complete the final 2 laps and finished 36th… it was very important to complete the race and finish as well as possible in order to secure a reasonable place on the grid for the 2nd World Cup."

"NPS 1 Sherwood, the first round of the National series, The course in Sherwood always makes for good racing, it’s very fast with a mixture of twisty single track and fire road. Several foreign riders were racing which made it exciting for the spectators and healthy competition for all the British riders. It wasn’t a comfortable ride because I was still suffering from crashing in SA the previous week so I was really pleased to win this race."

"After a couple of weeks training at home it was time to travel to Belgium for Round 2 of the World Cup in historical mountain bike venue Houffalize. My training had been interrupted by the effects of the crash in South Africa but I felt good training on the new very steep and twisty Houffalize course. On race day the weather was much colder than usual -about 4 or 5 degrees with a cold northerly wind, conditions felt more similar to a cyclo-cross than a XC race, luckily the rain held off... "

"The pace was as fast as ever from the gun. The start loop was a tough one, a very fast road section into a very steep dirt climb, if you weren’t in the top 20 or so it was a lottery whether you could ride the climb or would be forced to dismount . I didn’t get a great run in to the first climb and although I stayed on the bike and rode the climb I finished the start loop and started the first lap in around 50th place. I kept a good pace throughout the remaining 5 laps eventually finishing in 29th place,. Although not the result I’d been aiming for at least it means that I will start the next round in Czech a row further forward on the grid."

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