Julie Bresset secured France's first cycling gold medal in the 2012 London Olympic Games with a dominant performance in the women's mountain bike race on Saturday.
The 23-year-old matched the early pace setting from Annie Last (Great Britain) before taking command of the race after the first lap. Both Sabine Spitz (Germany) and Georgia Gould (United States) tried to match the French woman's pace but were unable to contend with the younger rider's strength.
"I'm very happy. It's amazing to win today," Bresset said at the finish.
"I hoped to win a medal and a gold medal is unbelievable. I started well, I took the front of the race and I managed it well. When I had a gap I told myself: 'Now, I should go.' I led until the finish and I'm very content."
Bresset rode an aggressive but measured race throughout, allowing both Last and Spitz to set the pace during the early laps. However, in the second half she took control and although she managed to drop her opposition, she remained focused and conscious that the demanding course could cost her in the finale.
"I managed well the technical passages of the course, I gained seconds and I didn't tire myself too much, fearing that I could pay the price later for leading all the time. I managed well my energies. I was really concentrated from the beginning to the end, I knew where to drink and where to refuel, I didn't make mistakes."
"I didn't think I could win today. I didn't expect a podium. There were three favourites: Last, Pendrel who dominated this year's World Cup, and even Spitz. It's been a surprise for me."
Like a number of her rivals, the BH - SR Suntour - Peisey Vallandry rider selected the Games as her main target of the season, using the World Cup rounds as mere preparation and points scoring on the way to London.
"I surprised myself, but I'm happy. I made choices during the season to be at the top today. The World Cup wasn't important, it was only today's race that counted. For the Olympic Games, you have to put everything else aside and this is what I've done. I'm proud of it. I worked well with my coach. She's the best and she's also a friend for me."
"For the French team, it's a relief to have finally won a gold medal. On the track, we are disappointed, but we've managed to win three silver medals at least. The big disappointment came above all from the results in the BMX, where we had the women's world champion. This gold is welcome, and I hope is followed by another one tomorrow (in the men's cross country race)." That's when her compatriot Julien Absalon will try to make it three Olympic gold medals in a row.
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.