Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå (Norway) won the ninth world championship title of her career on Saturday afternoon at the UCI Marathon World Championships in Kirchberg, Austria. It was her fifth career marathon world title. Sally Bigham (Great Britain) earned the silver medal while Esther Süss (Switzerland) got the bronze.
The women raced 85km with 3700m of climbing.
Only a few kilometers into the race, two Norwegians Kristin Aamodt and Borghild Loevset set a blistering pace, setting the stage for Dahle Flesjå's attack on the first climb, where she rode away from everyone.
"Out tactic was clear: I wanted to place a full-on attack on the first, 7km long climb up to the Choralpe, as the pure marathon specialists usually need a bit more time to find their rhythm," said Dahle Flesjå.
"This tactic worked out perfectly. I managed to get away from all the others and control the rest of the race from the leading position."
Upon reaching the Choralpe, Dahle Flesjå had already had put almost two minutes on her closest chaser, Bigham.
This lead shrunk to 30 seconds at times, and the Norwegian had to dig deep. "The course was extreme, and the steady ups and downs were really exhausting, so the whole race was a cliff hanger. But I knew that my competitors were suffering just as much, so I focused on eating as much as possible in order not to run out of fuel in these cold conditions."
On the last descent back to the finish, Dahle Flesjå gave it all she had. After a bit more than four and a half hours, she arrived in Kirchberg with a lead of almost four minutes.
"Winning this title, my fifth in the marathon format, was one of my main objectives for this season. I decided not to compete at the European Cross Country Championships to be at my best here," said Dahle Flesjå.
"When I saw that I had the number 40, I thought that's probably a good sign. Some years ago, I set the goal to be the first lady to win a gold medal at the worlds while 40 years old. To make this real is unbelievable, really."
Dahle Flesjå is currently 40 years old. Last season, she equaled an old record of 28 World Cup wins, set by Juliana Furtado in the 1990s. Her remaining major career goal is to break the record.
Defending marathon champion Annika Langvad (Denmark) finished fourth. She was not quite back to full health after a recent cold.
"The race went so much better than I expected. I've been struggling with a cold for one and a half weeks," said Langvad. "Due to that, I skipped the European championships and focused on this race. I got various treatments and recovered a lot during this week. I think I got the best out of the day and out of my body today."
"The long climbs were really tough. I think if you have a lot of endurance, it's beneficial on a course like this. It was a fun course because 95% was almost straight gravel, but the last 7km were a really technical descent. When you were really tired after racing for four hours, you had to do the most technical part of the race. For me, that worked out perfectly. In my preparations for the race, during training, I mostly focused on the last part because I knew you had to be sharp on it."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway)||4:35:30|
|2||Sally Bigham (Great Britain)||0:03:48|
|3||Esther Süss (Switzerland)||0:07:19|
|4||Annika Langvad (Denmark)||0:11:26|
|5||Blaza Klemencic (Slovenia)||0:12:33|
|6||Tereza Hurikova (Czech Republic)||0:12:57|
|7||Ariane Kleinhans (Switzerland)||0:17:05|
|8||Michalina Ziolkowska (Poland)||0:19:00|
|9||Daniela Veronesi (Italy)||0:23:46|
|10||Elisabeth Osl (Austria)||0:24:47|
|11||Elena Gaddoni (Italy)||0:26:46|
|12||Borghild Lovset (Norway)||0:27:02|
|13||Milena Landtwing (Switzerland)||0:27:36|
|14||Sabine Sommer (Austria)||0:28:34|
|15||Catherine Hare Willianson (Great Britain)||0:31:16|
|16||Jane Nussli (Great Britain)||0:31:23|
|17||Pavlina Sulcova (Czech Republic)||0:37:12|
|18||Ekateryna Anoshina (Russian Federation)||0:37:39|
|19||Robyn De Groot (South Africa)||0:39:00|
|20||Katrin Leumann (Switzerland)||0:39:16|
|21||Fanny Bourdon (France)||0:39:24|
|22||Almut Grieb (Germany)||0:39:31|
|23||Mary Mcconneloug (United States Of America)||0:40:15|
|24||Alice Pirard (Belgium)||0:41:16|
|25||Ann Katrin Hellstern (Germany)||0:41:35|
|26||Samantha Sanders (South Africa)||0:45:01|
|27||Inne Gantois (Belgium)||0:45:16|
|28||Jennie Stenerhag (Sweden)||0:45:36|
|29||Mailin Franke (Germany)||0:48:04|
|30||Alexandra Clement (Switzerland)||0:51:11|
|31||Andrea Kirsic (Croatia)||0:52:55|
|32||Laura Lorenza Morfin Macouzet (Mexico)||0:55:56|
|33||Emmy Thelberg (Sweden)||0:57:06|
|34||Bettina Uhlig (Germany)||0:59:05|
|35||Kristin Aamodt (Norway)||1:00:21|
|36||Magdalena Sadlecka (Poland)||1:01:05|
|37||Celina Carpinteiro (Portugal)||1:03:42|
|38||Regina Genser (Germany)||1:05:18|
|39||Veronica Leal Balderas (Mexico)||1:08:06|
|40||Stefanie Germany Hadraschek-Joche (Germany)||1:08:20|
|41||Michele Wittlin (Switzerland)||1:08:24|
|42||Helle Denmark Qvortrup Bachmann (Denmark)||1:10:16|
|43||Christina Verhas (Austria)||1:18:12|
|44||Andrea Juhasova (Slovakia)||1:23:31|
|45||Annette Griner (Germany)||1:24:20|
|46||Eszter Dosa (Hungary)||1:24:37|
|47||Sandrine Ponsard (France)||1:30:11|
|48||Anita Orosz (Hungary)||1:41:25|
|49||Zuzana Juhasova (Slovakia)||1:43:58|
|50||Rachel Fenton (Great Britain)||1:45:59|
|51||Liliana Alejandra Uzcategui Vasquez (Venezuela)||1:46:00|
|52||Ana Teresa Wulff (Argentina)||1:55:14|
|53||Veronika Cseh (Hungary)||1:59:52|
|54||Magdalena Halajczak (Poland)||2:52:56|
|55||Irem Aslan (Turkey)||3:25:48|
|DNF||Sofia Pezzatti (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Kristina Weber (Germany)|
|DNF||Isabelle Klein (Luxembourg)|
|DNF||Alexandra Engen (Sweden)|
|DNF||Kim Saenen (Belgium)|
|DNF||Sophie Giovane (France)|