Wrap up the Swedish MTB season with a WIN!
September 1, 2014
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CONGRATULATIONS to Jennie Stenerhag on a great MTB season in Sweden! Well done on WINNING Bockstensturen! We look forward to have you back in SA!

“It was a great feeling to win my last race of the Swedish season and also to win Bockstensturen for the 3rd consecutive time.” – Jennie Stenerhag

“I was not so nervous for this race, I almost felt that I was not focused enough and my legs also felt a bit stiff from the beginning and I struggled to get going. Bockstensturen is a 100km marathon race, it is a fast start and then you enter an area with lots of single tracks and then again fast roads to the finish. Emmy was going to be my biggest competition in this race and we were close to each other in the big bunch in the beginning, I passed her on the first hill after 15 kilometers only to have her stick to my wheel for the next 30 k’s! It was a bit irritating since she would not let go and also not come to the front to help, the guys in our bunch also did not want to help so I was pulling the group all the way. I felt stronger and stronger and I wanted her behind me when we got to the single tracks so I kept pulling the bunch. When we were approaching the first intermediate sprint and we came on to a gravel road I made the guys help, Emmy would never come to the front so she lost my wheel when the speed picked up and since I kept helping at the front. I made sure I was close to the front of the bunch when we hit the next single track, it is a better chance to get away and that was what happened, I heard someone having problems in the mud and a bit later I turned around and Emmy was gone. I could take the sprint and after that I never saw Emmy again but I never felt sure since I never knew how far behind she was.

It was a very muddy course and it made the race tough, a lot of energy went to just keeping the balance in the mud, it is also a longer race then normal in the national series, I was very tired when I came to the finish since I had been pushing as close to my max as I possibly could until the line! It was a great feeling to win my last race of the Swedish season and also to win Bockstensturen for the 3rd consecutive time.

This made me take over the lead in the national series, but there is still one more race which I will not do so it all depends on the result of that race if I win or not.

I am really happy with my Swedish season 2014, I have done 8 races in Sweden/Norway and I won 6 and came second in 2!”

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CykelVasan (The biking vasa)
August 18, 2014
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“Vasaloppet is a historical cross country skiing race in Sweden, it started 90 years ago following the route King Vasa took when he escaped from the Danes back in the days. A few years ago the organisation started CykelVasan (The biking vasa), it quickly grew to the biggest MTB race in the country and this year it was 12.000 people riding. This feels like the Swedish MTB version of the Argus in South Africa!” – Jennie Stenerhag

“It was pouring down with rain and the thermometer showed 8 degrees for the start! We started with the elite men and most of the good amateurs. It is a very easy race in terms of terrain, the speed says it all, the race is 94km and we averaged 32,1km/h at a mountainbike race! It is more of a road race with big bunches and for us girls it is not much else to do then try to stay with as strong guys as we possibly can! My competition for the day would be Borghild and Hildegunn from Norway, the same girls as I met at Grenserittet, and Hanna who I am fighting with at the national series races. Borghild got the best start and got up the first 2km hill ahead of me and Hanna who were together from start to finish. After about 20km on a fast piece of tar we past Borghild laying on the tar after a crash, her race was over… It was just me and Hanna in the bunch but after 50km I suddenly saw Hildegunn who had caught us. This was just as we were approaching the hill sprint, it was really difficult to pass with all the guys around us, I just just managed to sneak pass Hildegunn on the side to take the sprint.

With 43km to go it is easy riding so I understood that it was going to come down to a sprint, unfortunately we were in a very big bunch, it felt like at least 50 guys, from the 5km to go mark I was the first girl cause I wanted it that way to take the sprint from the front. I felt really strong at this stage and knew I could beat both Hanna and Hildegunn in a sprint. Coming around the last corner with 300 meters to go I was still first and with 100 meters to go I started the final sprint and felt like I was flying, I was leading but suddenly I caught a bunch of guys who blocked my way and I had to stop my sprint and freewheel even though we still had around 20-30 meters to go, at that moment I saw Hildegunn coming on the side and just just taking the win, it was so close that I almost thought I was still going to be first. I am 100% sure that I would have taken it if I had a free runway or if the line had been at the spot where I had to stop sprinting.”

For more photos visit Jennie’s website, click here.

Racing in Sweden | Finnmarksturen
August 15, 2014
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“The race was 120km in 2003 and I was really happy to be 1 hour behind the winning elite girl, it motivated me and my cycling career had started! I thought I was going to be a mountain biker but it changed to road and I only returned to Finnmarksturen in 2012 to finish in 3rd position, which I also did last year. This race is close to the place where I grew up so it feels a bit like a “home race” with lots of people I know along the route. All these things made it very special to step up on the highest place on the podium, a special race for me.” – Jennie Stenerhag

A Win at Finnmarksturen in Ludvika
August 11, 2014
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Women’ Day extended into being a great Women’s Weekend!

Congratulations to Jennie on Winning the Finnmarksturen #MTB race in Ludvika on Sunday (10 August)!

“This race is close to the place where I grew up so it feels a bit like a “home race” with lots of people I know along the route.” – Jennie Stenerhag (find Jennie’s race report below)

“Finnmarksturen in Ludvika was my first real race when I started cycling 11 years ago. The race was 120km in 2003 and I was really happy to be 1 hour behind the winning elite girl, it motivated me and my cycling career had started! I thought I was going to be a mountain biker but it changed to road and I only returned to Finnmarksturen in 2012 to finish in 3rd position, which I also did last year. This race is close to the place where I grew up so it feels a bit like a “home race” with lots of people I know along the route. All these things made it very special to step up on the highest place on the podium, a special race for me.

Halfway up the start hill it was me, Hanna and Emmy together, I pushed hard close to the top and we dropped Emmy. After about 10km, at the first spectator’s point, I heard the commentator saying that Hanna was on my wheel. I worked hard in the beginning to close gaps and try to go with better guys where possible. We came on to a gravel road and more people caught up and we were a big group when we approached a technical single track, 2 guys attacked to be first on to the single track and I went with them to enter 3rd. That was a good move since that was the last time I saw Hanna. Without getting any time gaps I had to work hard all the time, one can never be sure, especially when we are racing with the men. I took the hill sprint after 42km and after 50km my parents told me I had a 1 minute gap. It grew to 3,5 minutes by the finish.

It is a fun route with lots of single tracks and shorter hills, it is challenging and tough! I like this route a lot!

A special “well done” goes to my brother who did his first MTB race ever and loved it! He is now really motivated for CykelVasan, his big goal next weekend!”

View more of Jennie’s race photos in Ludvika here.

Grenserittet Race – third time lucky!
August 4, 2014
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“Grenserittet is a race from Sweden to Norway and it is a great event! It counts as a Norwegian race and the finish is at the old Fredrikstens fort in Halden, it was a great atmosphere!” – Jennie Stenerhag

“I was entered for this race in 2011 but broke my collar bone a few weeks before. I entered again last year but had a crash in a race the weekend before and hurt my coccyx so badly that I could not race. So, this year was third time lucky and I could race!

Somehow it felt like a lot of things were different with this race, maybe because it was Norwegian… We had to walk together from the start chute to the start line about 500 meters. We then had a 2km neutral start until the timing matts where the race time started. The racing ladies started together with the men in start group 3. I did not know what to expect since I had not done this race before, the tactics were not to let Borghild go since my guess was that she would be the strongest opposition.

The course is 80km and relatively flat and mostly on smooth gravel roads with just a few sections of single track, it is easy riding which means that the bunch often stays together. Early on we were 4 girls at the front of the bunch, Hildegunn, Heidi and Borghild, the 3 girls who were on the podium last year, and me. We were stronger then the men in our bunch and sometimes it was a bit irritating having them sitting with us without really helping. I soon realised that it was going to come down to a sprint between the 4 of us, no one was going to get away on a course like this! The race ends with a narrow walking path on gravel up to the fort, with about 400 meters to go there is a short steep hill, at the top of the hill you hit the tar in a 90 degree corner and the finish line is about 200 meters down the road.

My plan was to attack early, with about 500 meters to go, but we had started to catch riders from earlier bunches so when we got there the narrow path was full of riders and made it impossible to follow any kind of plan! I managed to pass Borghild and Heidi but not Hildegunn who saw me and pushed me out. As we started the short climb I hear a crash behind me, Borghild and Heidi both fell! Hildegunn and I started the sprint on the uphill and were side by side when we hit the top of the hill, I was on the outside and she had the inside. I had to dig deep in my memory to find a road sprint;), I pushed all I had and manage to get a perfect sprint to win the race!! It was a great feeling winning such a big race in Norway!”

Read more about Jennie’s race here.

Swedish Marathon Champion for another year!
July 28, 2014
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CONGRATULATIONS Jennie on defending your title from last year! Swedish Marathon Champion for one more year!

“It was such a great feeling to cross that finish line as the Swedish Marathon Champion once again!! It was a feeling of happiness and relief that I could do it! I am looking forward to wear blue and yellow for another year!” – Jennie Stenerhag

“One of the hardest things for an athlete to do is to defend a title, it creates a lot of expectations from yourself and from others, it is always easier to win something for the first time! I especially felt this way the days leading up to the Swedish Marathon Champs, I so badly wanted to win this title again since it is a great honour to race in your national colours for a year.

Both Åsa, who was 2nd at last years Swedish Marathon Champs, and Emmy who was 3rd were on the start line and they had both showed good form lately so I was prepared for a hard fight. I was very nervous before the start but it is funny how that all just disappear as soon as you hear the start signal (today they actually used a vuvuzela!!!). My plan was to be the first girl on to the first single track (all categories started together) and then try to just keep them behind. It all worked out well and I was in the lead from start to finish! I had a good flow in the racing and could keep a constant high pace. I had one gel and drank enough (this is normally my weak point) and I think that helped in the heat! I had been in Alingsås for 4 days leading up to the race, so that I had a chance to see the route and train on any difficult sections and I could feel that I had an advantage on the single tracks by knowing what was coming up.”

Read more and view Jennie’s Swedish Marathon Championship photos here.

 

A win at Mörksuggejakten
July 14, 2014
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“This year was my 4th Mörksuggejakten in a row (one of the races in the Swedish Marathon series) so I am starting to know the route quite well. I just came home from South Africa so I decided not to go there to ride the whole route, which I have done previous years. I only went the day before to see the worst place called the ‘wet hole’ and also the last 9km.”

Read more about Jennie’s win at Mörksuggejakten here.

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“This race has a neutral start through town and they let us go when we got to the bottom of a long hill, around 2km, it is probably the hardest part of the whole race! Normally it is a very high speed up the hill but this time it was a bit slower, it made for some congestion and it was difficult to get passed.

It also went well through the wet and muddy part of the course, South Africa has taught me something about riding in the mud which I appreciated on this part! I had a bunch of guys just in front of me as we descended a long gravel road, I managed to catch them on the next single track but the guy in front of me lost contact on the tar section. I had to stand up and put in a big effort to sprint back to them but it was worth it since I could sit with them for some time after. I eventually lost them in the forest and for the rest of the race I was riding alone or with one or two other people. At one stage we did a 180 degree turn in the forest and one can see who is coming behind, I had a bunch not far behind me and in there I could see Emmy, I got a bit surprised and speeded up a lot!! I did not see her for a while but as I turned to start the short steep climb up to the next hill sprint I saw her only around 50 meters back, once again I put a big effort in. When we eventually got to the last single track of 5km I saw her bunch coming just behind but I felt confident that she would not pass me on the technical section and I think I rode with max effort for the last 5km and managed to win, 49 seconds clear of Emmy. It was a very nice feeling of happiness and relief to take that victory!

 

5th at the European Champs
June 17, 2014
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Jennie’s first ever European Championship!

“It was again a late start on Sunday, at 11.45, enough time to sit around and get nervous. We were lucky with the weather, it was sunny and warm even though it always rains here!”

“I had decided to be offensive and go out in the top and especially on the first single track. The 5km start loop got us going on a 3km gravel road hill, Sally led us out and on her wheel was Borghild Lövsedt from Norway and Christina Kollman from Austria (who I got to know during the Epic), I felt a bit stuck behind and did not find my space so I went to the front where I felt comfortable. The 3 of them passed me on a bend but I went to the front again a bit harder so that I could go first in to the 2km single track back to the venue. Since it was impossible to pass on that one, I came to the venue in the lead! By going in to the single track first I challenged my self since there was a narrow bridge, exactly the width of my handle bar, that I was a bit unsure of, by leading the bunch I HAD to make it! And I did;)

Loop two started with a hill on the tar that carried on to gravel when it got steeper, I was leading us up but when it got steeper Sally, Borghild and Christina got in front and got a few meters gap, I crested the top in 4th place. The technical downhill went well but on the next uphill I was passed by Tereza Hurikova from Chezch (she ended up winning), I could see her in front of me for another 10km without getting closer, I also saw Sally now and then up until 30km. After that I did not see anyone ahead or behind  so I was in 5th place through the whole race. It was a great course, lots of single tracks which I loved, and a lot of ups and downs, we climbed 1900 meters in 75km of riding but it did not feel like that much climbing. Tereza won ahead of Sally who had passed the other 2, Borghild ended 3rd and Christina 4th.

I am happy with my 5th place at my first European Championship! The course was fun and Ballyhoura forest is a beautiful place for mountain biking, I would really recommend anyone to go there for a cycling holiday (if not going to South Africa of course!), fantastic! It was great having mom and dad with me to the race for some support and help, I could not have done it on my own! At the moment I am at Heathrow waiting for my connection to Cape Town, I will spend 2 days at home in (a rainy) Stellenbosch before heading to Pietermaritzburg for the World Championships in 2 weeks time.

A huge thank you to Cape Brewing Company for making my trip to the European Champs a reality! I am really grateful!”

Read more about Jennie’s race here.

Lida Loop WIN in Sweden for Stenerhag
June 9, 2014
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We are very proud of our pro ambassador Jennie Stenerhag who won the Lida Loop MTB Challenge in Sweden this weekend!

CONGRATULATIONS!

“I had a good, calm but excited feeling before the start and it gave some extra motivation to see all the friends that had come to support. I got a good start up the steep skislope which we start with, and also on the first gravel road. After a while I could hear that Emmy was right behind me, I rode offensive and I felt strong. The first loop ends with a long single track and I could get a good gap here to take the first sprint prize back at the venue. When I just left the venue to go out on lap 2 I could see Hanna coming in.

Early on when we had started lap 2 we were slowed down for an ambulance to get through and Emmy caught up again. We were together for a bit until she disappeared and a guy said that she might have punctured.

I had a good day, one of those days where everything works, if I put power down something happened and even though I had a high heart rate and was pushing hard it felt easy, not like some days when you have a high heart rate and push hard and everything feels like a struggle and you are fighting for every meter. To get these things right is what makes sport so interesting and such a challenge!

I also took the second intermediate sprint and I got the information that I had a 1 minute gap to Hanna in second place. I pushed hard but could feel that it was not very fast, I had no help from anyone around and did most of the work on my own. With about 9km to go a group came from behind in a very high speed, in that group I saw Hanna! I kept calm and I knew that it was going to come down to a sprint so I placed myself on her wheel and stayed there. I was discussing with myself in my mind what was the best tactics for the finish was, I decided to keep being offensive so with 1 kilometre to go I went to the front of the bunch and went first in to the last single track, with 450 meters to go we had a 180 degree uphill switchback and we were still head to head, I took the lead up the grassy hill with Hanna stuck on my wheel, the last 30 meters of the uphill was so steep you had to bend your bike to get up, I pushed as hard as I possibly could and heard the commentator saying that I got a small gap, that gave me the energy I needed to sprint really hard the last 200 meters and could take the win by 12 seconds!

It is always nice and special to win in front of cheering supporters, especially when the main sponsor Cape Brewing Company was there, thank you Henrik for coming to watch!”

Read more on Jennie’s website.

Jennie at Långa Lugnet 2014
June 4, 2014
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All the way from Sweden , here’s quick update on Jennie’s latest race!

“I came back to Sweden 10 days ago, it has been very nice to catch up with friends and family after 9 months away.  It has also been nice to come home and rest, I have slept much more than normal – well needed!” – Jennie Stenerhag

“The start went well but I was a bit surprised when the elite men took it easy up the first kilometre hill and carried on like that for the first 15km, it made for the whole bunch to stay together and also a lot of crashes, it was a bit nerve wracking! I saw Hanna and Emmy around me in the bunch and it was clear that it was the 3 of us that were going to be on the podium. I got a gap when the bunch finally strung out but I could not keep it up and fell back to a bunch with Hanna in and we were next to each other when we passed the venue to go out on the second loop. We were together for the first 28km when she got a small gap up a steep hill and I never caught up. I raced as hard as I could but just did not have that little extra to chase.

When I came to the venue to go out on to the third and last loop I could see Hanna, she was only 50 seconds ahead, I was expecting it to be more. Unfortunately my energy was starting to fade and I had nothing to speed up with. I had to settle for second again, the same as last year.

I must anyway take a few positive things with me, I was 10 minutes faster then last year on the same course (the men were a bit slower) and I was only 17 minutes behind the winning men.

It is now time to recharge for next weekend!”

Read more about Jennie’s race here.