Annie Last scored a career best 6th place at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in the Czech Republic, while Catharine Pendrel scores her second win of the season.
Not since Caroline Alexander way back in 2002 has a British woman finished this high in a World Cup XC event.
Last is clearly finding her form rapidly improving, fresh from a second place at the European Championships under-23 race the previous weekend.
Catharine Pendrel closes gap to World Cup leader Julie Bresset
The race was won by Catharine Pendrel notching up her second win of the season, in doing do closing the gap to Julie Bresset who currently leads the World Cup.
“It was a very difficult, technical course, and I had much problems,” admitted Bresset. “I crashed three times and then Catharine passed me and I could not stay with her, she was too strong.”
Pendrel took a 32 second lead by the halfway point in the race, and extended it to nearly a minute by the finish. Behind the two leaders, Kalentieva had caught Lechner on the second lap after a slow start, and so did the new European champion, Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida), as the Italian barely manage to fend off British champion Annie Last for the fifth and final podium spot.
“It was a hard race,” commented Pendrel, “and I had more than my share of mistakes out there. At the beginning Julie got a very strong start, and I made some mistakes. But I could see her in front of me, and I think maybe she went out a little too hard at the start. This is a great course, and I’m really happy to win here, and still keep the fight going for the [World Cup] title.”
Czech Republic new venue for World Cup
The World Cup series headed to new venue Nove Mesto Na Morave in the Czech Republic. A compact 4.2km course offered great vantage points for spectators to to view the race several times per lap. It was hard on the racers, with little opportunity to rest, with riders either climbing short power climbs, or descending only to immediately face another climb.