By Bjorn Haake
Mountain biker Bianca Knöpfle traded in her knobbies for road slicks to race the Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale for the first time in her career. This tough women's Tour de France comes on the heels of a strenuous event in her other discipline earlier this month.
"I did the European Marathon Championships in Germany last weekend and finished fourth. It was a difficult race and I still feel my legs." Knöpfle was hoping to loosen the legs up in the first few stages, which are rather flat. As an experienced mountain biker she was not afraid of the Belgian cobble stones, but cautioned that "crashes always happen."
She did get to see the road book and admitted, "There are some quite tough stages that await us."
The German, who prefers to speak English with her Dutch team-mates at Team Flexpoint, loosened her legs after a few days of racing. In the time trial on Friday, she finished 13th, but the high heat and mountainous terrain spelled the end of the road for the 23-year-old, who abandoned on stage six..