It was absolutely indescribable to put on the rainbow jersey once again. This World Championship title will forever stand as one of the very greatest victories for Kenneth and me, and it is guaranteed to give us renewed strength and energy for many more years on my bike.
Two days have passed since I became World Champion in marathon cycling, and it still seems unreal to me. Tears of sheer joy flowed freely a long time before I reached the finish line and I was a little dizzy as I got off my bike surrounded by a deafening racket around me. At the same time last year, I was at home and could only barely manage to take a short stroll to the grocery store. Uncountable hours of intense hard work lie behind what we performed on Saturday, and that's the very reason the World Champion title tasted so utterly fantastic.
The first days after the cross country World Championship, two weeks before the marathon World Championship, my body and legs were pretty worn out, so we had to take a few really slow days to recover fully. We left straight from Commezzadura (site of the cross country World Championship) for Villabassa, the town where the marathon World Championship was to start and finish. This was in order to have enough time to cycle around the track without wearing ourselves out beforehand. This enabled us to divide the track up into sections, do the flatter sections on slower paced days, and the tougher climbs on more intense days.
The women did a large lap of 89 kilometres, with a total of about 3,000 metres of climbing, while the men had to cycle 119 kilometres. As expected, the cyclists were still in a group towards the first climb after 10 kilometres on undemanding undulating terrain, consisting of asphalt, gravel and singletrack. Sabine Spitz immediately took the lead and controlled the tempo right to the top, and by that time, only Finnish Pia [Sundstedt] and I were still hanging on. An ascent with a gradient of a whopping 14 percent usually separates the best from the second best.
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