Olympic champion Sabine Spitz is going into the Mountain Biking World Championships aiming for gold, after having finished second the last two years. The German recently won the UCI Marathon World Championship, showing she has form that should help her in Australia.
Winning the marathon title in Graz-Stattegg, Austria, a few weeks ago "gave me a lot of motivation and confidence," she said. "It is a good feeling to have already won a world title this year."
Doing two worlds races in such close proximity has its disadvantages. "The race wasn't all that easy, and I can still feel it in my body," Spitz said.
The 37-year-old won in a convincing manner in Beijing at the Olympic Games last summer, taking the gold medal in the cross country ahead of Poland's Maja Wloszczowska and Irina Kalentyeva of Russia. But things didn't start out too well for the 2010 season. Health problems, an over-full PR schedule and putting too much pressure on herself combined to bring in less-than-satisfactory results.
However, she skipped the World Cup race in Canada to concentrate on training for the Worlds and said that she went into the Marathon Worlds relaxed. She found the fact that the race was exactly one year to the day after her Olympic victory to be a good omen, and it did indeed work out for her.
Now she is in Canberra, where her stated goal "is a medal". She sees it as "a very close race, although a lot of riders will be dropped." A good performance will depend on "whether you get a good start and quickly find the right rhythm on the technically extremely challenging course".
Spitz's husband, manager and trainer, Ralf Schäuble, noted that Spitz has already put in time on the course, as part of the team relay, in which Germany finished seventh. "It was very good to put in a lap under race conditions, since it just makes the difficulties of the course more obvious.
"You have to ride with your head in order to come through the technical passages cleanly," he continued. "It is evident that the start will be decisive. We hope that it goes better for Sabine this time than it has so far this season."
Is the course a good one for her? "Yes and no," he answered. "Yes, because it is very technical and for one thing, requires a lot of feeling." For another, it requires a lot of strength, which suits her style. But no, "because it looks to be almost impossible to move up if you lose touch in the first lap."
The elite women will race Saturday morning in Canberra, Australia. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for live coverage. The elite men's race follows on Saturday afternoon.
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