Two former world champions and last year's European silver medalist are considered the top favorites for the European Marathon Championships that will take place as part of the Rothaus Hegau Bike-Marathon in Singen, Germany on Sunday, May 13. Sabine Spitz (Haibike), Esther Süss (Wheeler iXS) and Sally Bigham (Topeak Ergon) are the top contenders for the women's gold medal.
"A title is a title," said Swiss rider Esther Süss, leaving no doubt about her ambition. Süss, who finished fifth at the Olympic cross country race in London, is one of the best marathon racers in the world. She was world champion in 2010, runner-up at Worlds in 2009, 2011 and the bronze medallist in 2012. She is also a two-time European Champion (2008 and 2010).
Spitz, who has many similar successes in endurance racing, believes that it will be hard for her to beat the rider from Eidgenössin. "In my opinion, Esther is the top favorite for the title. She is certainly hard to beat," said the rider from Südbadenerin, Germany. Spitz was marathon world champion in 2009 and won four world championship silver medals (2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011). She also won the European Marathon Championships in St. Wendel in 2007.
The fact that the European Marathon Championships will take place again in Germany is motivating Spitz to go for her 26th international medal. "Singen is very close to where I live, and the course there suits me. My goal is to win a medal," said the three-time Olympic cross country medalist.
The course suits Süss. The profile is similar to the one in Albstadt, where the cross country World Cup opener is scheduled to take place a week later.
"A good run at European Champs would also be a good motivation for the World Cup," said Süss. "And at the same time it's hard training."
The 39-year-old Bigham is also a strong competitor. The British rider is a marathon specialist and was runner-up at the European marathon championships the past two years.
Finn Pia Sundstedt won, but she has since ended her career.
"Sally is a very strong on flat sections," said Süss, who also lives not far from Singen.
Bigham's team manager Dirk Juckwer confirmed this. "That's right, Sally is a world class athlete on the flat and in climbing. She misses some skills in downhill, but by riding the new 29-inch bike, she was able to improve. And she is currently in a super good mood," said Juckwer. Bigham recently won a cross country race in the UK.
There are a few other contenders who may surprise the favorites, including Polish rider Anna Szafraniec (Kross Racing Team), who was the runner up at cross country Worlds in 2002; Swiss Milena Landtwing, Bigham's teammate; and Dutchwoman Laura Turpijn. Jane Nüssli, who is from the United Kingdom but lives in Switzerland, may also mix it up for a medal.