In Kirchberg, Austria, Christoph Sauser and Gunn Rita Dahle-Flesja were crowned 2013 UCI Marathon World Champions on June 29th.
Using the courses of the KitzAlpBike Marathon, the men were off at 8:00am and women at 8:30am. A cool start of below 9 degrees did warm up as the day progressed, and the course was in prime condition until the last descent. With so much climbing it favoured those with strong legs and brilliant endurance. But also those who could descend. 4400m of vertical goes both ways.
Small groups developed at the front of the men’s race, due to the increases of pace.
“It was an elimination race, with each increase in pace there were less people in the front group, in the final reckoning we could also depend on the Colombians for help with the pace setting, since we were still together. Christoph and I were wheel to wheel on the last downhill and I knew that I had to risk it all today, that today could be the day.” Austrian Alban Lakata said after the finish.
However it was just Sauser and Lakata that came to the finish, with Sauser having enough of a gap for a salute up the straight.
“Until the very last piece of wood I was comfortable on Christoph’s rear wheel, but unfortunately I slipped and lost those two seconds that I needed down the final stretch to get the win. In the sprint I might have had a nose ahead, but our sport is not about what might have been” added Lakata.
“I already have a silver medal, it would have been nice to win the gold instead. On my home track, with such an audience and the many fans who were there for me, I would love to have done it, but I unfortunately could not pull it off. But I’m sure when I wake up tomorrow, I will also appreciate silver.”
Winner Christoph Sauser “After I had to give up the title last year, I’m overjoyed to have recaptured it here in Kirchberg. Alban was a tough opponent today, and the track incredibly hard. ”
Australian Jason English rode a brilliant race for 37th, fighting cramps and finding room to pass on the last technical descent.
“I could see lots of people on the climbs, and if I was climbing a little better I could have caught them. I did take five wheels on the last descent, but there is just nowhere to pass on that long run of single track” said English after the race.
Full results are available on Datasport.
In the women’s race, Gunn Rita Dahle-Flesja had a 1:30 gap on Sally Bigham by feed zone 3, partway into the second climb. While not immediately in some peoples list of favourites for the race, she knows how to win a title.
Gunn Rita Dahle-Flesjaa – “The number 40 was something of a feature today. No-one believed me that I could win a world title aged nearly 40 years, and after the birth of my son. Today, I have proved them wrong. I can not believe it! ”
Sally Bigham came in for a very strong 2nd place, earning her first World Championship medal.
Esther Suess came in for 3rd, resulting with a Swiss rider on both the men’s and women’s podium. The full women’s results are available via datasport.
We will have a race report from a men’s and women’s World Championship rider in the coming days.