World Cup #6 – 4th at Finale

It’s hard to believe the 2017 World Cup is over. The season has flown by in a flurry of travel, races and results.

The final stop on the circuit was Val di Sole in Italy’s Trentino region.

 

The Valley of the Sun gave us some hot racing, kick started by an exciting U23 Women’s race. Isla had been happy on course all week, and went into Sunday’s race with a relaxed manner and quiet optimism. With two top tens already under her belt this season, the pressure was off and that – coupled with amazing form and well-deserved confidence – made for her best result yet.

 

A brilliant start from the second row of the grid saw Isla leading out the race, but lessons learnt from last week in Basel meant she backed off and tucked in as they began to climb. Feeling strong, Isla slotted into 5th place and kept a steady pace as the field strung out. Dropping into the first descent, the top five had already pulled out a gap on the rest of the field. Kate Courtney led into lap one, followed by Sina Frei, Evie Richards, Martina Berta and then Isla. Courtney, Frie and Richards pulled away and Isla’s race developed into a battle for 4th. She was stronger on the climbs but Berta was quicker on the descents. Isla played a tactical game and made gains where she could but without expending too much energy. Eventually she was able to eek out an advantage; firstly just a few seconds, then up to as much as 45 seconds. By the fifth and final lap, Isla was looking very comfortable in 4th. After the race she explained that she had left some energy in the tank in case she would have to fight it out with Berta in the final stages of the race, but it wasn’t needed and Isla could ride a sensible last lap to secure herself an amazing result and a wonderful end to her successful World Cup season. She high fived the crowds as she rode into the finish, and the smile is as broad now as it was then. There is a huge sense of satisfaction in achieving what you know you are capable of, as a result of really hard work. Congratulations Isla!

It was great to have Mariske back racing a World Cup after an unscheduled but much-needed mid-season break. She lined up with Annie in the Elite Women’s race at 1215.

Once again it was Annie who led the race off the line and into the start loop. Unfortunately towards the end of lap one – when riding in third place – she burped her rear tyre and immediately lost time and places on the long climb and through the final switchback descent. Lee did a really quick wheel change in the tech zone and Annie re-joined the race in 21st position. As the race went on Annie began to suffer with stomach problems and this thwarted any attempt to claw back the places she had lost. Twenty-fourth position was not the result she was hoping for, but Annie is certainly carrying some great form.

Mariske had a solid start and a strong race, handling the intensity of World Cup racing well given her time off. She settled into around 50th position, jostling for positions on each climb and descent. Bad luck struck again though, this time not a mechanical but a bee sting! Mariske was able to finish her race (in 50th position) but her allergic reaction was getting serious and we had to get medical attention. Thankfully everything was quickly brought under control and she is fine now.

Both Annie and Mariske now travel to Cairns, Australia, for the World Championships. Good luck ladies!

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Suddenly it was the last race of the day, and the last race of the World Cup season.

Martin was content with his race, after some disappointing results in the previous rounds. He was able to put in a strong performance in Val di Sole and fight each lap with consistent times to keep his position in the race. Seven fast and furious laps ended with a solid 53rd place.

There are just a few races left in the season now, and then we can finally begin to unwind and assess what has been a remarkable year. We have had our best ever results in the World Cup, with the highlight of course being Annie’s win in Lenzerheide. But each and every member of the team deserves mention for their incredibly hard work and great team spirit over six tough rounds of racing. Together, #weareOMX.

World Cup #5 – Two Top Tens

Here’s what went down at the legendary venue of Mont Sainte Anne, Canada…
Isla rode a brilliant race to finish inside the top ten for the second time this season, and with that she achieved qualification for the Commonwealth Games. She didn’t have a great start but the long opening climb allowed her to move up into tenth place in the early stages of the race, and then up to sixth after lap one. A few small mistakes on the extremely technical course cost Isla some time but her climbing legs clawed back the seconds and she was, for much of the race, in the running for fifth. By the final lap Isla had dropped to seventh but this still gave her a U23 career-best result and a wonderfully big smile at the finish!

Annie put in another impressive performance to finish eighth and bring herself within fifteen points of the World Cup overall third place. It was brilliant to see Annie on the front row of the World Cup start and she made the most of it by leading out the race and then attacking into the first technical climb to avoid any mishaps from other riders. Annie’s technical prowess was clear to see on the legendary Mont Sainte Anne course and this gave her precious seconds throughout the race. Annie had settled into her own pace by the end of lap one and was sitting in sixth position. The final two laps were tough and Annie was just out-sprinted at the finish and finished in eighth. She was really satisfied with her performance and the way the race unfolded. There are so many talented women who can win a World Cup, so to be inside the top ten is an amazing achievement. 

Martin had an incredible start, riding up into the top twenty by the top of the first climb. Near to the front of the race he avoided congestion and was able to showcase his skills on the descents. As the race settled, Martin was still inside the top thirty but unfortunately an untimely puncture lost him a lot of places and he found it difficult to then find his rhythm again. At the end of seven gruelling laps he finished in 52nd.
Five World Cups down, just one to go! Full focus on the final goals of the season.