After the huge success over the last decade competing in the UK, our first year as a professional UCI team, was going to be extremely exciting and scary all at the same time.
The team had signed 2 new UK riders during the winter period, first year elite Joanne Clay and elite rider Natasha Barry. These two, coupled with Claire moving from junior to U/23, the task ahead looked daunting.
The big news through the winter was the signing of our first overseas athlete, Zephanie Blasi from Tuscon Arizona, who was a superb addition to a strong squad and bought with her a wealth of knowledge. For Zephanie it was the first time competing outside of the USA, where she stood on the top of the podium on many occasions, and would go on to record some amazing results throughout a busy and testing year. The rest of the team largely stayed the same, with Carla, our U/23 National Champion becoming the most experienced UK rider.
Our first World Cup itself seemed like we were climbing mountains. Claire crashed out of the leading group in U/23’s, and both Zephanie and Joanne had a tough day in their first Elite World Cup race, finishing just outside the top 60. For Carla, though, it was utter devastation as she finished the race in tears having been in the leading group of Under 23’s before crashing hard on a very tricky drop-off and hitting a tree on the way down. Pulling herself together, she screamed back to an outstanding finish. It could have been a very different day.
We had the pleasure of working with outstanding sponsors once again in 2012, keeping on board all but a few from 2011, and adding Eleven Clothing, Selle Italia Saddles, Geax Tyres, Novatec Wheels and Sram. The teams official time keepers, Breo with their fantastic range of watches completed the already impressive line up!
Early season races would go well for the team in the UK with our first National Elite podium at Sherwood Pines and Dalby Forest as well as some top results in our other categories.
This success continued on home soil throughout the year, with Elite podiums at our British National Series in both Kirroughtree and Hopton Woods.
This was not to last though as our world cup campaign continued in La Bresse, France.
From the onset of the journey things did not go to plan. Poor Claire was ill right up to 10 minutes before the start of the race and lasted just 1 lap, collapsing in the feed area. Joanne crashed heavily and broke her rear mech, and Zephaine, after her best start this year cramped badly whilst being close to the leading group. This is racing at the top.
The National Championships would be yet another highlight in a fully packed year for the team with both Zephanie and Carla excelling.
Zephanie returned home to competing in her US National champs under huge pressure and off the back of a mammoth amount of travelling again showing her class. Carla claimed third spot in the U/23’s and a bronze medal. In the senior elite, Joanne had her best race of the year with a fabulous 5th.
These were three phenomenal results and gave us immense pride in our athletes. The season had been long, but we still had a couple of events left the first being the last British national and Joanne needed a good result to give her a 5th place overall, and a fantastic achievement in her first year as an elite athlete.
Then it was Natasha’s turn for glory in the Brighton Bigdog endurance race, enormous pressure as the team had won the trophy for the past 2 years, but she was up to the challenge storming home to a fantastic win and giving the team their hat trick.
Myself and Zephanie also had the honour of representing the team in China at the Guiyang Invitational Tournament in September which was one of the biggest privilege’s the team has had. Not only was it attended by top teams such as Rabobank-Giant and Colnago-Suditrol but we were made to feel like kings with a superb opening ceremony, police escorts, 5 star accommodation and a fantastic race with fantastic people.
A truly eye opening and inspirational experience that we will never forget. To top it all Zephanie produced a team and career best performance in both the short track and x-country with an spectacular 11th placing in both events.
The season was rounded off with a 5 day -7 stage Trans Wales race, another event we were past winners of. Amazingly after such a long hard season Natasha took an incredible 2nd place finish losing by just 20 seconds after 5 days in this gruelling event.
So what now for WXC World Racing …?
The team will go through some transitions in the closed season and you can expect to see new faces, sponsors and a slight change in strategy as we look to keep the progression going. 2013 will be our second year as a professional UCI team and having narrowly missed out on one of our athletes going to London 2012 our focus will now turn to Rio 2016 but first to establish ourselves firmly in the top ten of the worlds UCI womens teams.
It’s been a journey. 2012 has seen tears, jubilation, celebration, ecstasy and despair.
We have and will work continuously to fulfil the high standards and targets we have set ourselves and with it hope to change the perception of womens Cross-country Mountain biking in Britain.
We thank you all for your support, encouragement and look forward to a bright future!
Race hard…. Have Fun!
WXC World Racing