Team Spur’s marathon expert Ariane Lüthi has been finalising preparations for the UCI World Marathon Championships in Germany later this month. Over the weekend she added a race-pace effort to the schedule with the iconic 60km Elsa Bike Trophy in Switzerland.
“It was a beautifully, hot day,” says Ariane. “Probably the hottest day in Switzerland thus far this year.” Having spent so many years based out of Stellenbosch in the summer months these were ideal race conditions for her. “It was a really fast race in comparison to past years where it was rainy and cold,” she explains.
The race format features a mass start with Elite men and women combined, meaning that if you catch a fast train up the early climb, and then manage to hang on, you’re set for a good result on the day. “Ester (Süss) got away on that first climb I couldn’t stay with her,” Ariane says. “She was flying.”
It then turned into a battle for second place, with Ariane and Cornelia Hug riding together just about all the way to the end. “Cornelia managed to get a little gap on me somewhere in the first 10kms or so, but then she crashed as she washed out in a corner and I could catch back up. We then rode together the entire rest of the course,” she says.
It was a yo-yo affair Ariane explains: “Cornelia was a little bit faster on the climbs, but I managed to close in again on the downhills and more technical sections and then I just stuck to her wheel.”
They came to the finish together and it was always going to be a sprint. The finish is rather tricky though, with a left turn out of a roundabout and then a slight drag up to the line. “You have to jump after that corner if you want to sprint, but there were a few people in the way which was a bit messy and frustrating for me.”
After a tight finish, Cornelia finished second, behind Süss, with Ariane rounding out the podium. She was happy with the result and is looking forward to UCI World Marathon Champs on 25 June in Singen, Germany.
“I started working with a mental coach and I tried to put that into practice on the day. I think it made quite a bit of a difference!” she said.