JERSEY’S flag bearer Rhys Hidrio beat the heat of the day and more than a dozen elite opponents on a tough woodland course to finish in the top ten of the Commonwealth Games mountain bike cross-country finals.
Cannock Chase Forest provided an idyllic setting. Eight gruelling laps equated to just south of 40km for the competitors, in sweltering heat – all whileattempting to negotiate a course complete with rocky descents, steep climbs and slippery grass.
Hidrio was in action in the men’s race, which was ultimately dominated by the Kiwi duo of Sam Gaze and Ben Oliver.
Appearing in his third Games, Hidrio’s aim was to secure a top-ten spot in the elite field of 26 riders.
The Islander did exactly that, finishing in tenth, as he pushed past the fatigue barrier that plagued many of the contestants in the race.
Hidrio said: ‘I’m really happy with the performance.
‘Top ten was always in the back of head and I just managed to keep plugging away.
‘I built up a pretty comfortable gap, which made the closing laps a little less stressful.
‘The course was very mixed.
‘I didn’t feel that it was technically too challenging, but to race it was really tough.
‘Some of the flatter parts you are tip-toeing in a bid to save energy for all the climbs that are pretty much flat-out sprints.
‘I was almost in tenth spot last time at the Gold Coast Games, but a mechanical fault cost me that finish, so to claim it this time round makes me incredibly happy.’
Lisa Mansell and Emily Bridson were next up in the women’s race and the latter got off to a flyer.
Unfortunately, her hard work was undone when she suffered a hard fall navigating a rocky descent, which saw the Islander forced to retire from the final.
Bridson leapt to her feet unscathed and looked in great spirits despite her early exit.
Elsewhere, Mansell was enjoying her own battle with Nancy Akinyi Debe of Kenya as she spent the majority of her race fighting fatigue in order to hold her off and claim sixth.
She said: ‘I’m just buzzing going up against the world champion and several pros. I knew I wasn’t here for a medal, but I’m so proud of what I have accomplished.
‘I could see Emily’s fall on the big screen, which was tough, but I was so relieved when she was OK.
‘She’s so strong and such a great rider. I know she has many Games left in her and she will only go from strength to strength with more experience.’