By Aybars Oge Sürücü
German Sabine Spitz and Spaniard Jose Antonio Hermida won the European Cross-Country Mountain bike Championships last weekend in Turkey. A deep, sandy course challenged the riders.
Spitz beat Russian Irina Kalentiyeva and Czech Katerina Nash. Initially, Spitz and Kalentiyeva escaped together and were chased by Nash and Maja Wloszczowska, who eventually took seventh. Spitz rode away to victory, and Nash joined Kalentiyeva, but the latter opened up a gap on the third and final lap to take second ahead of Nash in third.
After the race Kalentiyeva graciously praised her opponent, "Sabine rode a very strong race today. She earned the win."
Under cloudier skies and cooler temperatures than the women's race, the men started off racing in a compact group on the start loop. The day's winner Spaniard Jose Antonio Hermida led the early charge to break 20 riders off the front.
While Hermida extended his lead, the chase group tested each other's legs. Julien Absalon saw he was losing time and attacked on the second lap. Florien Vogel and Fredrik Kessiakoff were not able to keep pace with Absalon.
After the race Hermida said, "It was my tactic to make an attack from the start to have the gap before the first descent. I tried to keep my gap but I saw that the others lost time and started to ride faster to stay safe."
Absalon was happy after his bad start to finish second. "At the start, I was not feeling faster. I wanted to see the others to attack and I wanted to have control but I found my rhythm later."
UCI President Pat McQuaid and UEC President Vladimir Holecek were pleased with Turkey's efforts to host the European Championships. After receiving words of praise, Turkish Cycling Federation Vice President Abdurrahman Acikalin predicted, "We will go for [hosting] 2010 MTB World Championships and 2013 Road Cycling World Championships."
For coverage of the European Mountain Bike Championships, click here.