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The first World Cup of the season is always a special one. For the first time in the year, the whole team is together and the close bonds of athletes and staff who live miles apart are instantly rekindled. The familiar habits and routines click into place but there is also an air of uncertainty as months of preparation are finally put to the test against the very best in the World.
Nove Mesto na Morave in the Czech Republic has become a classic of the UCI World Cup, and with no significant course changes it was a fairly straight forward couple of days of training. Lines were dialled and alternative options checked, climbs were attacked, lungs were opened and legs were tested. It was time.
With a change to the usual schedule, the Elite Women raced on Saturday. With their warm up complete, Annie and Mariske made their way to the call up boxes and then onto the grid. The routine is the same but the nerves, the anticipation, and the rush never go away! “The race will start in the next fifteen seconds”…
The start straight at Nove Mesto has seen some big crashes in the past, but thankfully everyone got away safely and Annie immediately made an impact on the race, moving up from 29th on the grid to the very front of the race. Team Manager, Paul, tried to sound calm on the radio but there was no hiding the nervous excitement in his voice, “Annie leads the start loop, Annie leads on the start loop.”
Mariske also made a good start, coming through to finish the start loop in 23rd position. From here she settled into the race, with composed, consistent lap times but a positive and really competitive drive to hold position amongst a strong group of women. After a tough few weeks of racing and long travel, Mariske was satisfied to finish in 29th position. It’s a great start to the World Cup and we look forward to see what she can do with a little more rest and recovery.
At the front of the race, fast starters had faded, chasers had punctured, a leader was established and a big group had formed in pursuit. Annie was in that chasing group, riding inside the top ten. She lost time held up behind a slower descender, and cost herself a few seconds with minor mistakes as she gunned to close down the top five, but despite this Annie was able to race to a brilliant tenth place finish. This is our highest ever Elite World Cup position and something that we are incredibly proud of. Moreover, we are so happy to see Annie back at the front of World Cup racing, smiling at the finish and confident and excited to race. What’s more, Annie feels there is still more to come!