What a weekend!
Mariske Strauss kicked things off with a dominant display at the South Africa Cup in Bloemfontein on Saturday morning. She led from the start and, despite some pain in her finger from a crash in Haiming, took the win by over three minutes! It’s a great indication of her form as she readies herself for the World Cup campaign.
On Sunday was our home race, the Hadleigh Park International. For a British team it is a rare treat to race a World-class event in front of a home crowd. It is even rarer that you can win such an event, but Annie Last did just that!
Annie and Isla Short led the field through the start loop but Isla’s amazing start was cut short with a rear flat tyre and she was left with a long run and a wheel change. Meanwhile, Annie still headed up the race and was joined by the Hungarian Champion, Barbara Benko, and Australian Champion, Bec Henderson. Bec would eventually lose touch and leave a dual for the finish.
Isla had a fire in her stomach and was on a mega comeback ride! Posting times that would have put her in fifth place, she smashed through the field with a determination and drive that certainly captured the hearts of the spectators.
With nothing to show between Annie and Barbara on the final lap, we geared up for a sprint finish. Nerves and excitement were high, and it was with absolute delight for the team and the British fans that Annie was able to pull clear on the finish straight and take a superb win.
After the race, Isla reported,
“It was frustrating but I’m not actually disappointed, I’m really happy about my performance and how I dealt with the situation. I looked at lap times and things are looking pretty sweet for the next few weeks!”
Onto the men’s race and an exciting battle at the front headed up by Cannondale Factory Racing’s Maxime Marotte and Manuel Fumic. Also in the lead group were Anton Cooper, Dan McConnell, Grant Ferguson and our very own Martin Gluth. Martin recalls,
“I was sitting in the lead-group for 3 laps but the pace from Cannondale was a bit too fast. I lost the group and finished another 4 laps on my own in the wind.”
Martin held on to finish in a super strong sixth place and is really happy with his form at two weeks to go until the first World Cup.
All in all it was a brilliant weekend for the team and we are really excited by each rider’s performance. Time to fine tune and get ready for World Cup competition!