Mountain Bike Olympics – Day One – Women’s Race

by Chipps 14

Today, 15,000 or so fans cheered the world’s best women mountain bike racers as they raced round a great looking course in glorious sunshine in Essex.


Well, what a day. I was at the Hadleigh Park venue soon after it opened to the public this morning at 10am and already the atmosphere was already thick and warm and syrupy. There were some obvious cyclists in the crowd, but also plenty of general Olympic fans and even some Essex locals who wanted to see the world class event happening on their doorstep.


The day was warm and sunny all day, with a bit of breeze kicking up at the start of the race, which helped add to the atmosphere, with spectators spreading blankets out and breaking out the picnics. The rocky, spectator-friendly features soon filled up with people keen for a good view of this challenging course.

Next to Deane’s Drop, there was a mountain bike version of  Wimbledon’s Murray’s Mound, with the big grassy hilllside full of cheering fans, flags and tartan blankets.

Move over Murray's Mound...



People everywhere...
First lap lead by Britain's Last.

The women were gridded up just after noon, with every rider getting a big round of applause. The biggest, obviously went to Britain’s Annie Last, looking very focussed with number five on her bike. At 12.30pm, the race started, with riders doing a 400m pre-lap before six full laps.

The pace out of the gate was fierce, with Annie Last getting the holeshot and leading the charge, ahead of Julie Bresset, Pendrel, current Olympic champ Sabine Spitz. These four riders started working together and started a gap on the field.


The tech support/feed zone


It was like 'Zulu'. Spectators everywhere!



Showing scuffs from practice crashes (like many riders...) Bresset calmly rode away to a win.
Spitz leads Gould down the rock garden.


As the race approached halfway, Annie Last visibly started to fade, allowing Georgia Gould to bridge the gap and put herself into a potential Bronze position.


Last, riding 26in Dugast tubulars on her Boardman carbon hardtail.


There are 6,000 of those pink frilly course markers out there. All put in by hand.



Despite there only being 30 women racing today, there was plenty of racing action.


Annie Last, who rode her heart out today, did the crowd proud.
Bresset on one of the last climbs, with the 'Deane's Drop' crowd in the background.



Canadian (and current world champ) Catherine Pendrel rode well to start with, but faded to finish an eventual ninth.
Emily Batty didn't do as well as predicted, after a training crash this week. Only after the race was it revealed that she raced with a broken collarbone and a couple of bust ribs. Chapeau!
Last's final lap gurn.


The huge crowd enjoyed being able to see a lot of the course from wherever they were on it.


The race finished with skydivers, who get credit for nailing the landing in strong winds...






Comments (14)

  1. Looks like a great day! Looking forward to being there tomorrow!

  2. Great day; the course had so much more climbing and was substantially steeper than I expected.

  3. The TV doesn’t really get across the steepness of the climbs. Yes, there are bigger mountains elsewhere in the country, but this course has more elevation change than Beijing and the course can be filmed better than anything that wound endlessly through the woods. Great day. Looking forward to tomorrow.

  4. Really quite like the rubber on Last’s Boardman. What are they?

  5. See article – Dugast tubular

  6. Brilliant day yesterday. Interestingly Emily Batty was the only one running the new SRAM 1×11 (you can just about see it in the picture above) I’ll try to get my blurry pics up in a bit…

  7. [Edit] Just seen the previous article! [/Edit]

  8. Yep, I thought that. Could by a 650b and the wheel just look big cos she’s so small?

  9. I’ll be a bit cheeky and sugest that people look at the photos in this thread.

    Brillint day. So glad I got tickets and went. Chipps will you do an article on MTBHaleigh Farm skeptics eat humble pie. I’m happy to confess that when I first looked on street map for the venue I wasn’t an enthusiast…..

  10. So… you can win a race with a Suntour fork 🙂
    Looked like an awesome day.

  11. Check out my own pic of Annie working hard in the Womens Olympic MTB.

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