Great Britain’s Annie Last has expressed her delight at securing a top ten finish in yesterday’s Olympic mountain bike race at Hadleigh Farm in Essex, won by Julie Bresset of France.
Last, aged 21 and from Derbyshire, had set the early pace with the eventual winner on the first of the six circuits of the 4.km loop and was even in front on her own briefly after the 23-year-old Bresset clipped a barrier.
As the race progressed, Last began to lose touch with Bresset and would eventually slip out of contention for the medals, while 40-year-old Sabine Spitz of Germany and Canada’s Catherine Pendrel emerged as the two closest challengers to the Frenchwoman chasing gold.
Pendrel, however, would see her challenge fade with Georgia Gouls of the United States emerging from the chasing pack to join Spitz in the pursuit of Bresset, who was beginning to stretch out her advantage and extended it further on lap four when the German crashed, holding up the American behind her.
Bresset would eventually win by a little over a minute from Spitz in a time of 1:30:52, with Gould a further six seconds back in third place.
Last finished 2 minutes 55 seconds behind the winner, and throughout was cheered on by a capacity 20,000 crowd at the venue on the Thames Estuary.
"I'm really, really happy with my race," she reflected afterwards, quoted on the British Cycling website.
"I came here and wanted to get the best out of myself. That's what I did.
"I wanted to put myself in the race from the start, get a good start so I had a clean run on that first half lap.
"The last few laps I slipped back a bit, but I left everything out there, so I'm pleased.
"To be able to race at a home Olympics in front of a home crowd was incredible. The crowd the whole way round was unbelievable.
"You can just feel the atmosphere and feel them pushing you forward.
"I love what I'm doing at the minute and I still see myself being able to move forward and progress.
"This is what I'm going to stick at for the time being and keep at it."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.