Annie Last wins in South Africa, Mariske Strauss third and Cherie Vale 5th.
Annie Last opened her 2016 racing account and Olympic qualification bid with a convincing win at the opening round of the South African Cup in Mankele.
It was a proud day for the team as the British Champion took to the start line for the first time in OMX kit. After a solid two weeks of training near Cape Town, Annie had just about got to grips with the heat of a South African summer and really showed her class on a varied course that suited the technical, powerful rider. After the race Annie said,
“January is early for me to race but I really enjoyed it – I felt strong and came away with a win which is great! I was certainly mindful of overheating and rode the opening laps a little conservatively to ensure I didn’t mess up the rest of the race. The course was really good, with some nice smooth recovery sections, some steep climbs and some great singletrack and descents.”
Mariske Strauss continued her comeback from an injury-filled 2015 with a well-fought third place. Mariske was excited to get the 2016 season underway and was full of her usual enthusiasm –
“I am super stoked to be back on the bike and racing. It’s a fun track and the Silverback SBC 1.0 is the perfect bike to bring out the absolute best in it!”
Sitting in fourth place for the first half of the race, Mariske looked strong but not quite back to her usual level. She pushed hard to make up a position and finish in third place. It was not quite the race she had hoped for but conceded that it was a step in the right direction.
Cherie Vale had also hoped for a better result in Mankele. Following her best-ever preparation for a season, Cherie had found confidence and was looking forward to seeing her training pay off. Unfortunately she fell sick on Friday morning and consequently suffered in today’s race. It was really dissapointing for our South African Champion. To feel this frustration and upset is a part of being an athlete and her reaction shows just how much she wants to perform well. Still, a podium finish in fifth and a fire in the belly to bounce back and showcase her abilities at the next race.
With three podium places we can be happy with the day’s work, but we can also be proud that a third and fifth place were less than Mariske and Cherie hoped for. There is more to come from these girls!
Congratulations Annie on a perfect start to your OMX career! Now onto the next races, following that Road To Rio…