In a much more disputed match than the score suggests, and an amazing atmosphere created by a production worthy of the superbowl, the Riders Europe team won a third Riders Masters Cup in as many editions. What a show!
An introductory speech by former Olympic champion, the legendary Pierre Durand, patron of the Riders Masters Cup, astonishing introduction of the teams, hymn sung by an impressive tenor for the USA and played to the guitar in Jimmy Hendrix style for Europe, a wild crowd – the stage was set for a great event … and the sport delivered.
The Riders Europe team dominated the first half with four wins, but the Riders USA team were still in the running with a slight chance thanks to Jessica Springsteen’s win over the youngest of Riders Europe team Harry Charles. At half-time, the score was 45 – 30.
The composition of the five duels was to be changed for second round in a kind of bluffing match between chefs d’équipe Robert Ridland and Philippe Guerdat (“The Americans tried to trick us and changed the starting order we had decided in the beginning at the very last minute,” revealed the chef d’équipe of the Riders Europe team). First to choose, the European coach had decided to set 2014 World champion Maikel van der Vleuten against 2018 World champion Laura Kraut in the first duel. The latter was barely faster, just enough to bring back her team to 50 points against Riders Europe’s 55.
In the second duel, the “U25” was going to give an advantage to the USA (70-65) after Lucas Porter beat Harry Charles by 10 hundredths of a second! Suddenly, things weren’t looking so bright for the Riders Europe team. But Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and Edward Lewy (with, in turn; 16 hundredths of a second over Jessica Springsteen) gave a decisive advantage to the Europe side (105 – 90). Daniel Deusser only had to finish his round for the Riders Europe to win a third Riders Masters Cup in a row: a mere formality.
“It was fun,” said a beaming European chef d’équipe. “Things got a bit tense after the second duel that we lost for one tenth of a second. The Riders USA even took the lead for a while. They fought a good battle. But all is well that ends well. It was really moving to see our U25 so disappointed to have lost both his duels. As I explained to him, this is how sport goes and also the way to help you improve. The Riders Masters Cup is a great experience of a high level team competition for our young riders.”
Before this third Riders Masters Cup, Guerdat declared, “Third time’s a charm”. Check! Now for the fourth edition in New York on April 27th.
Full results here.