Thomas Dietsch clinched his first victory in the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Series - a qualifying round of the marathon world championship - after a well-planned strategy in conquering the terrain of Langkawi. Adelheid Morath celebrated victory in the women's race.
The Team Bulls ace Thomas Dietsch worked with his fellow Frenchmen Remi Loffant, Maxime Marrote and Stephane Tempier to push hard from the start of the 71km race - the first ever held in Asia - in hot and difficult conditions.
The 2007 World Cup winner covered the race in four hours, 41 minutes and eight seconds. Second was Iran's Mardani Parviz (4:48:32) and Steffen Thum of Ultra Rose Racing Team (4:50:25).
"It feels good to win races like this. I really suffered a lot in the hot race conditions, and it is satisfying to finish it with a win," said Dietsch. "This is my first victory in the world qualifiers series."
"My race strategy today was to attack from the start with the other French riders. By the end of the first loop, I was already in the lead. I managed to widen the gap in the second loop and kept my lead intact in the third and final loop to finish first.
"Even a minor crash during the second loop failed to affect my chances. Luckily I was not injured when my tyre slipped on the wet road during a turning, and managed to continue the race," said Dietsch.
Parviz pulled off a major shocker by upstaging the more favorite riders to take second spot in just his first appearance in a UCI world meet qualifiers series.
Parviz attributed his impressive ride to his ability to adapt to the hot racing conditions in Langkawi.
"I think I am the first Asian rider to get a podium finish in a UCI world championships qualifier," said Parviz.
"Back in Iran, we train in hot weather. The only big difference there is that the air is dry while it is humid in Langkawi. I am extremely happy with the second placing and want more podium finishes to qualify for next year's World Championships Finals."
Thum, who leads the qualifiers ranking based on his performance in previous qualifying legs, was satisfied with his third place finish, which protects his place at the top of the standings.
"It is not possible to win in every race, so I am happy to have secured a podium finish. I kept pace with the French riders when they surged ahead early on, but fell back to fifth after suffering problems with my handlebar midway through the race. I managed to claw my way back to third.
"As I had already qualified for the world championships even before coming to Langkawi, my main aim here was not to win but to protect my overall lead in the standings. I did it today," said Thum.
In the elite women's race, Sabine Spitz rider Adelheid Morath of Germany took advantage of Orange Monkey Pro Team's favourite Mariske Strauss' "stomach problems" to cross the finish line ahead of the rest.
Morath, who is a cross country expert, was making her debut in an UCI marathon event in Langkawi.
"It is a great victory for me as I am more at ease in the cross country events. I took the lead towards the end of the first loop and widened the gap for the rest of the race," said Morath.
South African Strauss was satisfied with her second-place finish. "I pulled up a bit after suffering stomach issues. I was concentrating on keeping steady out there and did not want to kill myself by going all out. At the end, I did a good job to hold on to second place," said Strauss.
Third-placed Hungary's Eszter Dosa of Vitalitas SE held on to her top spot in the UCI world championships qualifier list after riding a safe race to get a podium finish.
The UCI Mountain Bike World Marathon Championships qualifier offers ranking points to riders to qualify for the UCI Marathon World Championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, next June.
Meanwhile the top local rider was Mohd Razif Salleh of Chiru Endurance. The Malaysian national rider finished 17th.
Results (Note: Women's full results not yet available at the time of this posting)
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Thomas Dietsch (Fra)||4:41:08|
|2||Parviz Mardani (IRI)||0:07:24|
|3||Steffen Thum (Ger)||0:09:17|
|4||Peerapol Chawchiangkwang (Tha)||0:20:16|
|5||Bram Rood (Ned)||0:22:05|
|6||Ken Onodera (Jpn)||0:28:41|
|7||Cory Wallace (Can)||0:34:54|
|8||Bengareth Roff (GBr)||0:41:50|
|9||Farzad Khodayari (IRI)||0:42:39|
|10||Aayman Thing Tamang (Nep)||0:53:35|
|11||Prasert Chitmad (Tha)||0:57:08|
|12||Justin Price (NZl)||1:08:43|
|13||Muhammad Raihaan Abd Aziz (Bru)||1:10:55|
|14||Narayan Gopal Maharjan (Nep)||1:11:48|
|15||Buddhi Bahadur Tamang (Nep)||1:18:52|
|16||Jacinto De Jesus (TLs)||1:34:34|
|17||Mohd Rhazif Mohd Salleh (Mas)||1:36:31|
|18||Muhd Nurjamri Johari (Bru)||1:37:42|
|19||Victor Galvez Perez (Chi)||1:41:00|
|20||Frisco Daniel (Mas)||1:56:43|
|21||Khairi Bin Amin (Mas)||2:01:38|
|22||Zin Min Oo (Mya)|
|23||Antonio Almeida (TLs)|
|24||Fabien Halbwachs (Mri)|
|25||Nik Suharto Nik Husin (Mas)|
|26||Mohd Arif Bin Che Awang (Mas)|
|27||Azmar Mohd Nor (Mas)|
|28||Jose Almeida Aroujo (TLs)|
|29||Stanley Jr Jalip (Mas)|
|30||Dzulkeffly Hassan (Mas)|
|31||Adymartony Kaikin (Mas)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Adelheid Morath (Ger)|
|2||Mariske Strauss (RSA)|
|3||Eszter Dosa (Hun)|