Cycling - Last taking it easy but Olympic ambitions still burn bright

Annie Last has experienced the storm and now the British mountain biker is ready for the calm as she bids to build on her Olympic debut at London 2012 over the next four years.

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Cycling - Last taking it easy but Olympic ambitions still burn bright
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Germany's Sabine Spitz, France's Julie Bresset, Britain's Annie Last in far rear and Canada's Catharine Pendrel compete during the women's Cross-country mountain bike cycling event at Hadleigh Farm

The 22-year-old did not quite grab the headlines at the Games like her British team-mates in the velodrome but she was still a credible eighth in the cross-country event around Hadleigh Farm.

Last's appearance at London 2012 was significant as she was the first British woman to start an Olympic mountain bike race for 12 years and it came after she qualified outright herself.

She claimed five top-ten World Cup finishes, not including a win in an eliminator race, prior to competing at the Games including a career-best third a day after the opening ceremony.

Last plans to ease her workload for the foreseeable future however that does not mean her desire to improve on her eighth place at the Olympics between now and Rio 2016 will be diminishing too.

"For the first half of next year I will be taking things a bit steady, it's a chance to catch up after the Olympic year," said Last. "It has been a ridiculous schedule in the past two years when trying to qualify for the London Games, it was very hard.

"For now I will be doing more cyclo-cross races but without the pressure that has been there in the past two years to get where I needed to be for the London Olympics. It will be nice to race without it being a do-or-die situation.

"I don't need to be away from bikes, I just want to approach it all differently for a while. I am really looking forward to competing at elite level more regularly, I need to step up.

"I competed at elite level in the World Cup during the build-up to the Olympics and it was a good test because those were going to be the riders I would face in the actual Olympics.

"Now I will really have to push my development in all areas and I'm looking forward to the challenge. Obviously, you now look ahead to the next Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and it's a case of trying to get on the podium more often over the next few years and start building towards the next goal."

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