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Heroes / GHOST Factory Racing Team / Second Double Victory with sprint finish at Nove Mesto World Cup

Second Double Victory with sprint finish at Nove Mesto World Cup

Anne Terpstra back in the world elite with a 12th place finish after her injury

After two successful World Cup competitions, the GHOST Factory Racing Team was able to continue its winning streak last weekend. Sina Frei and Malene Degn controlled the U23 race right from the start and got to the finishing straight side by side. The exciting sprint finish ended with Sina Frei crossing the finish line ahead by mere centimeters. It wasn’t meant to be for Barbara Benko and Lisa Pasteiner, but Anne Terpstra’s 12th place finish proved that she belongs back among the world’s elite after her ankle fracture.

Every year, the World Cup in Nove Mesto’s biathlon stadium promises a spectacular race course with the most, and definitely the craziest, spectators of the season. For many years, the event in the Czech Republic has been regarded as the best XCO race on the circuit, offering perfect infrastructure for the teams, riders and most importantly, for the spectators. Contrary to the mud of the previous week, it was dusty forest ground awaiting the athletes this time, forcing them to give it their all yet again.

Lisa Pasteiner didn’t have a great day, after doing so well at her first two World Cup races: “I don’t know yet what went wrong, but I am so happy that the team has my back on these days as well. I will take my time to analyze what happened and then hopefully, I will find out the cause soon.” The Austrian finished the race in 35th place.

Her two teammates, in the meantime, made the race incredibly interesting, and many spectators spoke of the most thrilling U23 race ever. Malene Degn and Sina Frei were in control of the race right from the start. During the first two laps, the runner-up from Albstadt, Evie Richards, was still in the mix. But the GHOST teammates cooperated perfectly, managing to open a gap between them and the pursuit, working together especially well on the windy start/finish straight. All the competitors fell behind at first, with the exception of Italian Marika Tovo and German Ronia Eibl, who closed up at one point. Each lap went the same way: The rider who was first on the finishing straight controlled the next lap. But eventually, the two teammates got down to serious business and were able to build a lead, first on Eibl and eventually also Tovo in the last lap. Neither Malene nor Sina were able to break away from each other, resulting in a sprint finish which was won by the U23 World Champion by a hair, before the athletes fell into each others’ arms: “This was a fabulous race. We had discussed beforehand how we could possibly cooperate during the race, of course, and what would happen if we were able to do that. But we didn’t think it would go as well as it did! In 2014, we already competed against each other in the sprint here. Today, the race went basically the same way, but this time we are teammates. We rode a great race and are happy for each other. That’s just the best part about the whole situation. Thank you to the entire team, who made this week possible. Everything was just perfect yet again!” Malene agreed and was just blown away by the way the race turned out. “This was definitely the most exciting and thrilling race I ever rode in. We competed against each other fairly right from the start. In the last lap, both of us wanted to put it away, but neither one of us managed to get ahead by even one meter. Today, we simply were equally strong. OK - Sina was a front-wheel-length stronger.”, said the girl from Denmark with a smile on her face at the finish line. “Naturally, I would have liked to win as well, but after a race like this, I am fine with the second place and it fuels the fire in me. In Albstadt I wasn’t so close, but I didn’t get nervous because I knew I could do better. Today, I was in it again and I am looking forward to the upcoming races!” This was the second double victory of the season since South Africa, this time in reverse order. Both Malene Degn and Sina Frei have found themselves on the podium at all three World Cup races so far and between the two of them, they have been able to win each one of the three races.

Barbara Benko was able to secure a spot in the first two starting rows thanks to the new short race format determining the start line setup. She was able to keep up with the lead group in the Cross Country Race on Sunday right from the start. “I had a good start, but I really don’t know what happened afterwards. My legs would have been able to keep going even after the five laps, but I kind of just didn’t find a real pace. Today, I was just bad at the climbs, going down and on flat sections as well. I need to analyze what happened here and hopefully I will find out what went wrong because, right now, I really don’t know what happened.” The Hungarian Champion will focus on her college finals now and then clear her head for the second half of the season.

Anne Terpstra didn’t make it into the TOP15 in the short race, which meant she wasn’t in the first two starting rows. She still managed to move up to the TOP8 in the starting lap in the Cross Country event. From then on, she delivered a steady race. At one point she fell back to 17th place, but thanks to her steady lap times and a courageous race, her 12th place finish meant the second best result of her career in the end: “I don’t even know yet really what to say. After the race in Albstadt, I heavily doubted myself and my conditioning. This year, I really haven’t had a representative race yet. That’s probably why I sort of didn’t make it easy for anyone around me – sorry about that. The fractured ankle cost me a lot of time, of course, and I started the season much later than I normally would have. The fact that I can go home with my second best World Cup result is unbelievable. I would like to thank everyone on the team for believing in me! I will try to do my best to make up for the missed start into the season!” 

Foto © Sternemann, Sigel, Küstenbrück

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