Six more years for Gunn-Rita Dahle

World and Olympic mountain bike champion Gunn-Rita Dahle has signed a six-year extension of her...

World and Olympic mountain bike champion Gunn-Rita Dahle has signed a six-year extension of her contract with long-time sponsor the Multivan Merida Biking Team in a deal that will see her thought to the end of her racing career and beyond.

The 32-year-old Dahle will continue to race for the team for the next three years before taking up a three-year position for the Merida bike company as an "international ambassador."

"This was the final piece of the puzzle for us. The contract is both solid and gilt-edged, with much better conditions than we've had previously," said Dahle in a statement which did not divulge details of the deal. The new contract rewards Dahle for her total domination of women's mountain biking over the last couple of years, a period in which she has won the Olympic Games, the World Cup, the Norwegian championships, the Nordic championships, the European championships, the 'standard' and most recently the longer-distance marathon world championships.

As an athlete approaching the end of her career, Dahle knew what she wanted from her final contract. "It was important for me to focus on security, since this is probably the last contract I [will] sign as a professional cyclist," she said.

Dahle will have to learn how to fit he role as the face of Merida around her determination to continue to win races. "Obviously, with the results I've been having, Merida is interested in using me to a greater extent as a face for the company," she said. "So I have to be prepared for more travel, both in Europe and to the rest of the world. It's going to be a challenge, combining this with full concentration on top results in cycling, but we [Dahle and fiancée/coach Kenneth Flesjå] have the necessary experience to be able to tackle such things."

See also: An interview with Gunn Rita Dahle, October 19, 2004: The victory junkie and the 24-hour coach and On top of the world: The Gunn-Rita Dahle diary.

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