Annie Last made history as she became the first British woman in 20 years to win at the UCI Mountain Bike Cross-Country World Cup. The Olympian took the lead with two laps to go of six in Lenzerheide and held off the challenge of Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesja to take the victory.
The 26-year-old is the first British woman to win the elite women’s race since Caroline Alexander won at St Wendel, Germany in 1997.
“I’ve had a tough couple of years, even to be racing at the front felt incredible. It’s not sunk in yet, unbelievable. I’m so happy,” Last said.
Riding for OMX Pro Team, Last made a superb start from her gridding of 17th and was up to seventh after the first lap. By the end of lap three she was within 20 seconds of the top four of Yana Belomoina, Jolanda Neff, Maja Wloszczowska and Dahle Flesja.
As Last grew stronger, Neff and Wloszczowska faded with Belomoina and Dahle Flesja unable to distance the Briton. Last made the decisive moved on lap five with only Dahle Flesja, record win holder in the world cup, able to keep within striking distance.
But Last kept her composure and showed remarkable strength and skill to hold off the Norwegian for a famous win. We said at the start of the season that Annie Last could by eying up a place in Tokyo, despite not being part of the British Cycling program – surely this brings her another step closer to gaining that Olympic place?
Richards third in under-23 race
Great Britain Cycling Team’s Evie Richards continued her impressive UCI Mountain Bike World Cup season with third in the under-23 women’s race in Lenzerhiede.
A superb start from the British under-23 champion saw her lead after two of the five laps with a 10-second gap, but Courtney and Frei brought Richards back on lap three with the American under-23 champion pushing on alone to leave Richards and Frei to work together. Home favourite Frei then made her bid for second with two laps to go and that order remained to give Courtney her second win of the series.
Richards finished one minute behind American Kate Courtney in Switzerland, as she recorded her fourth podium in as many rounds. With home rider Sina Frei in second, the result leaves Richards third overall in the standings with two rounds remaining.
lsla Short impressed with 13th place while Ella Conolly was pulled from the race on lap four.
29th for Clacherty
Frazer Clacherty continued his season with a 29th-place finish in the under-23 men’s race. The 19-year-old, who took a career-best sixth at round two in Albstadt, completed the seven laps in 1:34:31.