SHEFFIELD’S Annie Last finished first to claim Commonwealth gold in the women’s cross-country mountain biking.
The 27-year-old could only manage fourth in Glasgow four years ago, but she and compatriot Evie Richards led from the off on their way to an English one-two on Gold Coast, the first time England’s women have won a Commonwealth medal in this event.
Hitting the front at the very first corner, Last and Richards, 21, never looked back over the six-lap race.
The Sheffield rider made her move to drop Richards early on the third lap, and took victory by 48 seconds, with Richards a further 90 seconds clear of Canada’s Haley Smith in bronze.
Last revealed that it had been a deliberate tactic to get to the front early in a bid to avoid any unfortunate mishaps in Nerang.
She said: “I’m really happy with the race. For me, it went to plan. I had a smooth race, I didn’t make too many big mistakes and I managed to position correctly so that I was able to get it all out there and pace it well. I’m really happy and it’s great to have Evie second and pushing the race.
I had a smooth race, I didn’t make too many big mistakes and I managed to position correctly so that I was able to get it all out there and pace it well. I’m really happy and it’s great to have Evie second and pushing the race.Sheffield’s Annie Last
“There’s quite a bit of single track on this course so I wanted to be in a position where I was near the front at least. There’s the potential that if you’re gunning too far back, someone in front of you could have messed up and you could have lost kind of contention with the front so I wanted to make sure I was near the front.
“I stayed up there and it means you can ride your race. There’s quite a few little steep ups and steep downs, so if someone in front of you makes a mistake you’re stuck on your bike tackling up it. So I wanted to make sure I had a clean track.”
Middlesbrough’s Frazer Clacherty took fifth in the men’s event which was won in dramatic fashion by New Zealand’s Sam Gaze.
The 22-year-old suffered a puncture on the final lap but fought back to take victory ahead of compatriot and defending champion Anton Cooper.
Clacherty finished strongly to take fifth – his ambition coming into the competition. He said: “I’m pleased with that. My aim was top five and I finished fifth so I’m pretty happy.”
Veteran Thurnscoe pole-vaulter Luke Cutts pipped Sheffield and Dearne training partner Adam Hague, 21, for a bronze, his first-time clearance of 5.45m proving the vital difference as Hague’s clearance at the second attempt saw him just lose out after both failed to clear 5.55m. This latest Commonwealth success sees Cutts add to the silver medal he won at Glasgow in 2014.
Interview via npower, official partner of Team England.