Whakatane's Karen Hanlen secured a stunning 2nd place at the latest round of the BMC Racing Cup in Switzerland over the weekend. In difficult conditions on a drying but still challenging race course and against many of Europe's best athletes, Hanlen put together a fantastic race, ultimately only two seconds from winning. Switzerland's Esther Suss prevailed in a sprint finish.
After the start, four women had formed the lead group by the end of the fourth of six laps. From there, Hanlen took command of the race at the front and quickly opened up a gap at the beginning of the penultimate lap, but this was soon closed down by Suss. “I told Karen it’s better if we work together,” Suss said. “Especially on the flat sections, where the track goes through the town of Solothurn.” During the last lap the duo distanced themselves from the rest of the field and headed toward the finish line locked closely together. However, Suss knew exactly where to attack with intimate knowledge of the Solothurn course having won here before, and passed Hanlen 300 metres before the finish to hold on for the win.
Hanlen is understandably very happy with this result: "Yeah, I'm so pleased, and a really nice confidence boost for next weekend, although I won't get complacent as it'll be all on!" The 'next weekend' is the third round of the UCI World Cup in Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic, where Hanlen will again line up with Wellington's Rosara Joseph to continue the enthralling contest these two athletes are having on the world stage this year.
Other New Zealand athletes also competed at Solothurn, with Samara Sheppard (Wellington) 19th in the Elite Women's race. In the Elite Men's race, Rotoura's Dirk Peters was right back into the international racing groove with a very strong 24th at this third race of his 2012 European campaign. Sam Shaw, also from Rotorua didn't kick on as well, with a DNF in the tough conditions.
Brief Results, BMC Racing Cup, Solothurn Elite Women Esther Suss (SWI) 1:43:18 1st; Karen Hanlen (NZL) 1:43:20 2nd; Irena Kalentieva (RUS) 1:43:54 3rd; Samara Sheppard (NZL) 1:53:48 19th.
Elite Men Nino Schurter (SWI) 1:37:13 1st; Moritz Milatz (GER) 1:37:16 2nd; Christoph Sauser (SWI) 1:37:38 3rd; Dirk Peters (NZL) 1:44:47 24th