A weekend full of drama...
Prague Lions lit the fire that rapidly spread over the last 9 teams in Round 2 of Global Champions League in Ramatuelle/ St. Tropez. The double clear of Anna Kellnerová and Niels Bruynseels propelled the team from 10th after Round 1 to just missing out on the podium after the stage was completed. Their tight time twisted the arm of other teams, with the likes of Valkenswaard United, Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses and Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland Equestrian failing to follow the Lions. It was however the lightning fast round of Spencer Smith and Scott Brash that offered New York Empire powered by Lugano Diamonds the first win since Valkenswaard 2019.
Sitting proudly in 2nd and seemingly closing the weekend with nothing but positives, Madrid In Motion overtook Paris Panthers on the league’s table as Panthers made 3rd place in St. Tropez.
However a closer look at the final result reveals a totally different story....
Ahead of Round 2 and when asked ask on course walk whether the team had the speed to fight for the win, Van der Vleuten confidently spoke about the natural speed of Beauville Z making it seem he was on the faster horse as the big stride of teammate Eduardo Aznar’s horse Bentley de Sury would make it difficult to keep pace in some of the holding lines.
Aznar however managed to leave out strides rather than hold and miraculously the Spaniard produced the fastest time of all riders in the Top 6 of the final standing at Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show. At the finish line, the team led the stage before New York Empire came in. At the end of the day Aznar’s time secured Madrid In Motion’s 3rd podium finish this season.
The team was 1.24 seconds slower than the eventual winners and that had everything to do with Maikel van der Vleuten’s 66.79 seconds, making it the 3rd slowest round of the Top 6. Daniel Deusser collected a time penalty and Abdel Saïd even added 2 to his 8 penalty round after controlling the very fresh Bonne Amie.
The dutchman confessed that he was to confident in the natural pace of his Monaco Grand Prix winner, taking it easy after advice from teammate Laura Kraut and being surprised when crossing the finish line that he was so off the pace. He might have let a win slip out of the team’s hands, including a 5 point bonus that comes with 1st place.
Though the 1.24 second difference can be considered as a little unlucky, the seriousness of the situation only becomes clear when looking at the time allowed. French course designer Grégory Bodo had set the time trap at 67 seconds, meaning the van der Vleuten only sat 0.21 seconds inside the time allowed. That is a margin you can not take into account when on course, proving that ‘Vleut’ was unaware of his slow pace.
A time penalty would have dropped Madrid in Motion of the podium to 4th and would have resulted in an extended lead of Paris Panthers in the championship.
Next week, with team manager and father Eric van der Vleuten in Cannes at the 100th stage of Global Champions League, we’re quite certain there will be more eyes on the clock than normal.