Denmark's Annika Langvad claimed the marathon world championship title with a superbly paced race over Germany's Sabine Spitz and Switzerland's Esther Süss in Montebelluna, Italy, on Sunday.
"I know this win is a little bit of a surprise for some people, but I just felt good and strong throughout the whole race, so that I really believed I could do this," said Langvad, who earned her first elite world title.
The race began coming apart just 7km into the 98.3km race, with Süss setting a brisk pace. The defending champion was joined by Serena Calvetti (Italy), Sally Bigham (Great Britain) and 20 other riders.
Another acceleration by Süss's teammate Ariane Luethi further whittled the lead group to 10, with the main contenders all present in the chase behind the Swiss rider. Among them were favorites like Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway), Süss, Spitz and Pia Sundstedt (Finland).
Luethi gained a maximum 3:27, but 71km into the race she was caught by a chasing group with Spitz, Elisabeth Brandau (Germany), Süss and Langvad. Sundstedt was the first of the next group of chasers while Dahle Flesjaa was dropped.
Langvad then put in an acceleration that the others could not match, and was able to hold on to a sizable lead over Spitz to don the rainbow jersey.
"I managed to stay calm, and as the kilometres to go decreased, I became more motivated," said Langvad. "My decisive attack and my staying in front alone galvanized me even more."
Spitz earned a silver medal, keeping her medal-winning streak alive. She has won a medal at each of the five consecutive marathon Worlds at which she has raced. In 2009, that medal was gold.
"It is great to be here again and have won a medal," said Spitz. "The race was not easy and strongly influenced by the tactics. I think I've now reached my best form."
Dahle Flesjaa, for whom this annual Gunn-Rita marathon is named, finished in seventh place. "I felt very good right until the 20-kilometers-to-go mark, but then surprisingly all my power had gone. If you want to compete for the podium places against such strong competitors, you really need to have an outstanding day," she said after the finish.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Annika Langvad (Denmark)||4:20:33|
|2||Sabine Spitz (Germany)||0:01:56|
|3||Esther Süss (Switzerland)||0:03:23|
|4||Pia Sundstedt (Finland)||0:05:32|
|5||Elisabeth Brandau (Germany)||0:05:34|
|6||Sally Bigham (Great Britain)||0:08:53|
|7||Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway)||0:11:15|
|8||Monique Pua Mata (United States Of America)||0:11:51|
|9||Birgit Söllner (Germany)||0:13:05|
|10||Nina Gaessler (Germany)||0:16:32|
|11||Arielle Boek - Van Meurs (Netherlands)||0:17:30|
|12||Jane Nussli (Great Britain)||0:21:30|
|13||Michela Benzoni (Italy)||0:22:57|
|14||Anna Ferrari (Italy)||0:27:30|
|15||Lelde Ardave (Latvia)||0:30:31|
|16||Daniela Veronesi (Italy)||0:32:45|
|17||Roberta Gasparini (Italy)||0:33:07|
|18||Emmy Thelberg (Sweden)||0:34:15|
|19||Sarah Zimmerlin (Germany)||0:35:58|
|20||Annette Griner (Germany)||0:36:06|
|21||Sofia Pezzatti (Switzerland)||0:39:21|
|22||Alessia Ghezzo (Italy)||0:40:17|
|23||Sandra Klomp (Italy)||0:41:20|
|24||Andrea Kuster (Switzerland)||0:47:55|
|25||Verena Krenslehner (Austria)||0:48:02|
|26||Linda Larsen (Norway)||0:48:43|
|27||Stefania Zanasca (Italy)||0:58:30|
|28||Angelica Edvardsson (Sweden)||1:06:15|
|29||Beatrice Balducci (Italy)||1:20:49|
|30||Jasmin Erhardt (Germany)||1:24:03|
|DNF||Ivanda Eiduka (Latvia)|
|DNF||Pavlina Sulcova (Czech Republic)|
|DNF||Serena Calvetti (Italy)|
|DNF||Francesca Bugnone (Italy)|
|DSQ||Ariane Luethi (Switzerland)|