Italian Eva Lechner got the best result of her career and also the best result of any Italian at this year's UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands this weekend. The 'cross and mountain bike star earned a silver medal, making her the first Italian woman to earn a medal at 'cross Worlds.
"We had a clear goal in mind, and all optimally managed the pressure," said Lechner's coach Edmund Telser. "Second place is like a victory because Marianne Vos is in a class of her own."
Prior to the Worlds, Lechner had spent a few days training with some female Swiss mountain bike racers in Gran Canaria. But upon her return to the wintry, snowy South Tyrol region, she promptly caught a cold.
Two days before she headed to Worlds, Lechner said, "I have no great expectations for Holland. Although I am in a good mood, I have to be realistic after my cold. Whether I'll be good enough at the World Cup for a top placing is questionable."
Vos finished over a minute ahead of Lechner for the Dutch woman's sixth consecutive 'cross world title while Lechner was delighted to get the best-ever Italian women's finish at 'cross Worlds ahead of 'cross stars Helen Wyman and Sanne Cant.
Enrico Franzoi was the most recent Italian to win an elite medal at 'cross Worlds. He earned bronze in 2007 in the elite men's race. Daniele Pontoni won gold in 1997 while Luca Bramati was third. In 1996, Pontoni and Bramati were second and third respectively. Italians have to go back to 1969 to find another elite Italian medallist - Renato Longo with bronze.