wc :: Classic


Sunday morning in a sunny field in Surrey brought the onset of the World Cup Classic Final. In the humid early spring heat the men faced an intimidating 18km race with over half a kilometre of climb, and the women 12km. The spectator control was halfway around the men’s course and just under a quarter of the way round the women’s, giving an exciting two stage spectator element to the competition, while the big screen showed competitors starting and then cruising to the last control. Today also saw a big upturn in Great Britain’s fortunes, with the Men performing particularly well in the punishing conditions.

In the Women’s competition an early lead was taken through the spectator and finish by Finland’s Riina Kuuselo, with Rachel Elder finishing the 12km course in 1:39:01. Rachel was glad to have finish, found the whole thing very tiring but only made a couple of mistakes. In the second third of the course she found herself too tired to read the map properly, but recovered in the final third as the physical side of the course eased off a little. Overall she was pleased with her result. The Great Britain supporters’ excitement mounted as Claire Ward and Sarah Rollins came through the spectator close together around 90 seconds down. They were closely followed by the pure class of the Swedish girls, Emma Engstrand and Jenny Johanson destroying previous fastest times at the spectator. Heather Monro beat their times through the spectator, and the field went wild. However, the Swiss pair of Vroni Konig Salmi and Simone smashed this lead by almost a minute, leaving the field biting their nails waiting for GBR to finish.

Sarah and Claire had very strong runs to finish 21st and 24th respectively, with Heather losing time over the second section of the course to come in a respectable 9th position and British Elite Classic Champion Helen Winskill finishing in a promising 17th position. It was team mates Vroni Konig Salmi and Simone Niggli-Luder who stole the show, with Simone cruising in a cool minute ahead of the rest of the field to be greeted by her team mate who’d finished just before in second place. On interview both said the area was really nice and that they enjoyed the courses greatly. Vroni emphasized the importance of concentration on every control, and when asked if she made errors early on proclaimed that she’s simply a slow starter and picked up after the spectator. Simone found the terrain fast but more heavy going than she had expected, but despite this she felt she still had strength left at the finish. She’s now feeling a lot of motivation, and thinks this will be important for tomorrow’s Sprint Race.

The Men’s competition saw some wonderful results, from both experienced team members and up and coming younger athletes. Oli Johnson and Dan Marston were a little off the pace through the spectator, with Nick Barrable over a minute ahead of them, only for Matt Crane to come storming through in the 2nd fastest time of the day. The atmosphere in the field was lifted as yet again GBR nails were bitten waiting for him to finish. Jon Duncan hit the spectator control at the same time as eventual winner Jani Lakanen, and the crowd went wild! Surprise of the day came from the French direction, with Theirry Gieorgiou losing at least 3 minutes even before hitting the spectator control.

Nick Barrable passed Oli Johnson after the spectator, his long races in the Czech hills paying off to bring him into an early fourth position. On interview he proclaimed the usefullness of Dave Peel’s “stress free bubble” and “concentration zone” ideas, and said his run felt smooth, picking off his two minute and four minute men relatively easily. He was happy to get a good result in front of a home crowd. After this good news however, Matt Crane was shortly announced at the pre warning and after a fantastically strong finish sneaked into fourth position by 2 seconds. Enjoying his TV interview, Matt said he didn’t make even 10 seconds of mistakes, but that he’d be surprised if anyone could run up every hill on that course!

A solid on form run from Jon Duncan topped Craney’s performance as best GBR men’s result of the day, with him finshing in front of a by now pretty exhausted crowd in 12th position. The winner of the day was Jani Lakanen, with Finnish team mate Mats Haldin drawing with Andrei Khramov in second place. Khramov may have sneaked the second had he not made an error, coming through the spectator control entrance to the field and having to double back.

A fantastic day therefore of solid GBR results in front of a supportive and excited crowd. We’re all looking forward to tomorrow!


1 106 Jani Lakanen FIN 1:32:07
2 104 Mats Haldin FIN 1:33:05
3 102 Andrei Khramov RUS 1:33:05
12 107 Jon Duncan GBR 1:37:28
16 126 Matthew Crane GBR 1:38:41
21 141 Nick Barrable GBR 1:39:01
39 133 Daniel Marston GBR 1:43:41
43 143 Oli Johnson GBR 1:45:42


1 301 Simone Niggli SUI 1:13:15
2 303 Vroni Kö Salmi SUI 1:16:13
3 310 Emma Engstrand SWE 1:16:28
9 307 Heather Monro GBR 1:19:51
17 305 Helen Winskill GBR 1:25:50
21 317 Sarah Rollins GBR 1:27:01
24 319 Claire Ward GBR 1:27:35
37 362 Rachael Elder GBR 1:38:01
39 342 Helen Bridle GBR 1:40:23


Rachael Elder (photo courtesy of WC site)

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