Osl surprises in South Africa

Elisabeth Osl (Central Ghost Pro Team)

Elisabeth Osl (Central Ghost Pro Team) (Image credit: Tour of Japan)

An incredulous Elisabeth Osl couldn't believe her own performance in South Africa last weekend when she won her first cross country UCI World Cup at age 23. Osl had a break-out race in which she defeated more established and older champions like former World Champion Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon) in second and Norwegian Lene Byberg (Specialized Factory Racing) in third.

"Is this really true? I cannot believe it," said an emotional Osl, with tears in her eyes and a faltering voice. "I knew that I'm in good shape, but I never would have thought in my life that I could win here."

"I believed she had a top five in her," said team manager Ralf Schäuble of his Austrian rider. "Though if you're at the front, a good day can happen."

"Normally, I have problems with the start, but suddenly I was in the lead," said Osl, who had a 20-second gap on lap one. "Then I just rode my own pace and no one else was there.

After a frustrating race the UCI World Cup cross country opener in South Africa, Olympic champion and Osl's teammate Sabine Spitz was working to keep her own spirits up. She finished 11th place after suffering stomach problems throughout the race and while still recovering from recent respiratory infections.

The Central Ghost racer had been riding in seventh place, but on the final lap, she dropped four more places.

"I am very disappointed, because I'm obviously not come here to be eleventh. That was my worst race since I started doing the World Cup," said the German Spitz.

"But I will not put my head in the sand. The season is long, and I am looking forward. I am sure that in Offenburg, I will be better off."

The Offenburg World Cup will be run in Germany the final weekend of April.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the women's cross country World Cup in South Africa.

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