Continuing her momentum from the previous weekend in Albstadt, Germany where she finished in 8th place, Mariske Strauss put on another solid performance to claim sixth place in the under-23 women’s race in Nove Mesto.

Strauss’s race strategy almost came together. “My plan was to stick with the front group and to dig deeper in the final two laps,” said Strauss.

Being in the lead group of five, Strauss was cut-off by a rider and found herself a little behind the group and had to work hard to close the gap. It all came down to the final lap where Strauss’ efforts were almost rewarded until she experienced a flat tyre in the last rock-garden section.

“Racing with a flat tyre on the front was tricky and I had a rider right behind me, so I couldn’t take the last corner on tar very fast.” Strauss was pipped on the finish line to sixth place, just over three minutes behind the winner.

Andrea Waldis (SUI) won the u23 women’s race, 44 seconds ahead of Australian Rebecca Henderson with Yana Belomoyna (UKR) finishing third. Also representing South Africa was Candice Neethling, who finished in 18th position.

The stacked u23 men’s class saw seven South Africans take to the start line, our strongest field in world cup racing today. James Reid favoured the tricky Czech course and finished in 18th place, 5 minutes off the pace. Luke Roberts and Brendon Davids crossed the finish line in 31st and 41st positions, seven and eight-and-a-half minutes off the winning time respectively – an indication of the pace and talent in this young class. Belgian Jens Schuermans won the u23 race in 01:15:51. He was followed by Swiss rider Reto Indergand (+1 minute 14 seconds) and Michiel van der Heijden (NED) a further 24 second behind.

The elite men’s race saw the familiar names of World Champion Nino Schurter (SUI) take the top step of the podium in 01:39:33 with stalwart Julien Absalon (FRA) three seconds behind to take second place. Swiss rider Lukas Flückiger took third place, 45 seconds off the pace. South Africa’s Philip Buys dug deep to finish in 49th position, 9 minutes and 43 seconds off the pace.

“I lined up 19th and had a great start loop then settled into around 38th place where I felt more comfortable than the previous weekend. From here I started moving up and was lying 28th at one stage,” said Buys on his blog post. He lost valuable places in the final two laps to finish 49th.

The junior men’s race saw South African Louw Kriel finish 67th, 10 minutes off the winning time. Frenchman Raphael Gay won the class in 01:04:51, with fellow Frenchman Romain Boutet second (26 seconds behind) and German Lukas Baum third.

Summary of Results – Cross-country 2 – Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic

Men Elite

1. Nino Schurter (SUI) 01:39:33

2. Julien Absalon (FRA) 01:39:36 +0:03

3. Lukas Flückiger (SUI) 01:40:18 +0:45

49. Philip Buys (RSA) 01:49:16 +9:43

81. Renay Groustra (RSA) -2laps

Men U23

1. Jens Schuermans (BEL) 01:15:51

2. Reto Indergand (SUI) 01:17:05 +1:14

3. Michiel van der Heijden (NED) 01:17:29 +1:38

18. James Reid (RSA) 01:20:51 +5:00

31. Luke Roberts (RSA) 01:22:58 +7:07

41. Brendon Davids (RSA) 01:24:15 +8:24

67. Travis Walker (RSA) -1lap

69. Arno du Toit (RSA) -1lap

88. Paul Rodenbach (RSA) -1lap

Rourke Croeser (RSA) DNF

Men Junior

1. Raphael Gay (FRA) 01:04:51

2. Romain Boutet (FRA) 01:05:17 +0:26

3. Lukas Baum (GER) 01:05:27 +0:36

67. Louw Kriel (RSA) 01:15:30 +10:39

Women U23

1. Andrea Waldis (SUI) 01:14:54

2. Rebecca Henderson (AUS) 01:15:38 +0:44

3. Yana Belomoyna (UKR) 01:16:11 +1:17

6. Mariske Strauss (RSA) 01:18:04 +3:10

18. Candice Neethling (RSA) 01:24:08 +9:14