Spitz sets goal to win Olympic mountain bike medal

Sabine Spitz hopes to defend her title as Olympic mountain bike champion this coming weekend. The German is looking forward to her fourth Olympics, and "this unique atmosphere" of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

"I am a competitor. I can gear myself up quite well for big races. The course is a good one for me and my goal is quite clearly a medal," she said in an interview of the website of the German cycling federation.

The 40-year-old first rode at the Olympics in Sydney in 2000, where she finished ninth. In 2004 in Athens, she won bronze, and in Beijing in 2008, she soloed to the gold medal.

Spitz already knows the course, having ridden it this spring. "We could train for two days and were lucky enough that there were totally different weather conditions on both days. One day was dry and it rained on the next, which made the course totally different to ride."

"Sunshine and 30°C would be the best for Saturday's race, she said, “but that will hardly happen in London. So I will be happy if it stays dry. The prognosis is good, but you can't rely on that."

She knows that she will face much tough competition in her goal in Essex. "A third of the field comes into question for a medal," she said. "As first, I would name Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa, who won the last World Cup race in Val d'Isere. But Julie Bresset of France, the Briton Annie Last or Georgia Gould of the USA are also podium candidates."

Like many of her competitors, Spitz is skipping the Olympic Village in order to stay closer to the course. It is too bad, she said, "because I have always enjoyed  these encounters with other athletes".But, as she pointed out, "It is simply more practical to live near the course. We can cover the short way between the hotel and the MTB course with our bikes. If we lived in the Village, the commute would be enormous."

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