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Miami Celtics power to GCL ranking lead after Mexico City win

Sunday, 25 March 2018
CSI5* LGCT Mexico City 2018

Photo (c) GCL / Stefano Grasso. Denis Lynch and Michael Duffy of Miami Celtics. Photo (c) GCL / Stefano Grasso.

Miami Celtics kick-started their 2018 GCL season with a win in Mexico City, snatching victory from overnight leaders Paris Panthers.

Brilliant double clears from the seasoned Denis Lynch and young talent Michael Duffy propelled them to the top of the podium with the Panthers in second and Valkenswaard United in third place. Tension remained high right up until the last rider in the last team as team fortunes rose and fell in dramatic fashion.

“When I got the call a few months ago to be asked to be on a team was a dream come true," said Michael Duffy, U25 rider of winning team Miami Celtics. "So it was a great start and to come here and win on the first event is a great start for the season — let’s hope we can stay there. Teaming up with Denis Lynch was absolutely brilliant because me being a little green at this level I made a silly mistake yesterday, I pushed too much into the double, and luckily enough he gave me a team talking and a slap on the wrist and it was a good education for me and made a massive difference. Thankfully my mistake didn’t cost in the end. This is what we all get out of bed in the morning for – this is the level everyone aspires to be at and these are the best shows in the world so for me it’s a dream come true and what better stage to show yourself on?"

Nineteen teams, including several new squads, were on the starting grid for the first leg of 2018 and the stakes are higher than ever. The GCL regular season of 16 events climaxes in Doha followed by the big new showdown at the GC Prague Play Offs in December.

Under brilliant blue skies and the extraordinary giant Mexican flag fluttering over the arena, the team contest got underway with thousands of spectators and guests creating a vibrant festival atmosphere. The course on the immaculate grass arena at Campo Marte set a serious test with connecting lines and plenty of opportunities to cut corners. A flimsy 1.60m vertical to finish proved costly and heartbreaking for many.

Run in reverse order of merit from Friday’s opening round and carrying their penalties with them, the teams set out in determined mood. The new format saw the two team riders starting directly one after the other to deliver the team score and adding to excitement for fans.

Gregory Wathelet, of second placed Paris Panthers, said: “Today we were not as good as yesterday. I knew I could have one down but I could not be too slow to stay ahead of Valkenswaard, so that’s why I tried to play a bit for that and also for myself. It worked. The new system is more clear, easier to follow, and you could see that things could change so quickly — we could be the winner today or we could also be fifth or sixth.”

“For me it’s the first time here in Mexico and I’m really impressed by the show, it’s a really amazing show," Marcus Ehning, of third placed Valkenswaard United, commented. "Today we were hoping more to get to the lead, but we both had one down in the second round. But at the end it was a good start for us and we still have space to improve.”

Source: Press release from GCL // Photo © Stefano Grasso/GCL. 

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