The first race of the 2018 JEC programme saw 14 GB athletes across four teams take to the streets of the Swiss village of Villars-Sur-Ollon, in a fast and frantic head-to-head format, the first of its kind at junior international level.
Leading off their respective teams were Fiona Bunn (GBR1), Tara Schwarze-Chintapatla (GBR2), Emma Wilson (GBR3) and Anika Schwarze-Chintapatla (MIX1) and the pace at the front of the pack was unremitting in its intensity, as they headed uphill and away from the start line for the first leg. The courses included several long route choice legs, with the gaffling managing to split some of the teams early on, followed by some shorter, faster legs as the runners returned towards the assembly.
Ten minutes later, the first athletes headed into the arena passage, and it was to British cheers that Fiona descended to the spectator control in first place, with GB debutant, Anika, only around 10 seconds back from her, and comfortably in the top 10. These two continued to work hard around the final short loop and set up their outgoing runners for the next leg beautifully, ensuring that they both went out in the leading pack, with Fiona finishing in second and Anika in sixth. Eddie Narbett now took up the reigns for the first team and, although he wasn't happy with his overall performance, having dropped sometime in the middle of the course, he still brought the first team back in 9th and fighting for a podium position, only 18 seconds off sixth place at this stage.
Freddie Carcas on the third leg then ran a controlled race to stay in contention, running through the spectator control in the middle of a group fighting for places 7 to 12 and still well in touch with the leading pack and duly handed over to last leg runner, Laura King, with the team sitting in 10th. Laura then ran a superb final leg to pull in several of the athletes in front of her and an exciting sprint finish saw her cross the finish line in a dead heat with the Swiss 3rd team last leg runner and pull the team up onto the podium in joint 6th.
Across the rest of the squad, there were a number of steady runs, resulting in the Mixed 1 team finishing 36th, the 3rd team in 41st of the 64 teams competing in the event and unfortunately the second team were disqualified. The athletes are now resting up and preparing in the hotel for the middle race tomorrow at Monthey, where it is hoped that the area suits some of the technicians in the squad and more good results can be recorded by the team across the two classes of M/W18 and M/W20.