On Sunday, exactly one year after winning the Olympic cross country race in Beijing, China, Sabine Spitz (Germany) won the world marathon championships in Austria. Spitz crossed the line after 84.1km with a time of 4:24:16.
"This is an incredible feeling, especially since it was the last title that was eluding me," said the 37-year-old Spitz. It was her second rainbow jersey - she won the cross country world championship title in 2003.
Eventually, a group of three riders emerged as leaders. Spitz, Petra Henzi, and Ester Süss. The three stayed together as they approached final climb up Schöckl. On the descent that followed, Henzi experienced technical troubles and dropped back to finish third at almost three minutes behind Spitz, who clearly won the sprint ahead of Süss.
With 12km to go, Spitz had a one-minute lead over Süss. It seemed that Spitz had a comfortable margin. However, then the men started to overtake the women, and it was hard to keep track of who was where and in what race. The men had started earlier, but completed a longer loop, and therefore were catching the women at the end.
"With 500m to go, Christoph Sauser approached. I let him pass and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a Swiss jersey. It could have been a man, but then I suddenly realized that it was Esther! Luckily I had something left," said Spitz.
"It was good that I was here a few days early," said Spitz. "Route knowledge was worth a great deal in this marathon."
Spitz will fly to Australia on Tuesday as she prepares to compete in the cross country World Championships next week.
Spitz and Süss weren't the only riders whose race was affected by riders from other categories on the course at the same time.
American Pua Sawicki led the race after the first climb. She soon found herself in with a field of master men that had started 15 minutes in front of the elite women. While leading, Sawicki collided with one of the master men who would not move out of the way. She hit her right leg, where she's suffered several injuries this summmer, and still held onto the lead until the Swiss women worked together to reel her in and pass her when Sawicki stopped at the pit to straighten her bars.
Sawicki dropped to fifth, then worked her way back up toward the front, where she stayed until her leg bothered her as it swelled. She dropped to seventh place as she approached the final climb, but she held onto seventh, the best-ever finish by an American (man or woman) at the marathon worlds.
"We are disappointed that the UCI does not let the Pro Champion Women race on an open course in the World Championships, but we are very happy to see that Pua can hang with the best in the World," said her husband Ron.
Defending world marathon champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa finished 13th. "While riding the course, I wasn't really sure what I'm doing here, but after finishing, I am satisfied with the 13th place. Although I am glad to be finished in one piece, I didn't take too many risks now that I'm a mom. It was great fun, and I will come back next year to St. Wendel to fight for a medal."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sabine Spitz (Germany)||4:24:16|
|2||Esther Süss (Switzerland)||0:00:02|
|3||Petra Henzi (Switzerland)||0:02:52|
|4||Erika Dicht (Switzerland)||0:04:34|
|5||Elisabeth Brandau (Germany)||0:10:30|
|6||Pia Sundstedt (Finland)||0:13:09|
|7||Monique Pua Sawicki (United States Of America)||0:17:14|
|8||Milena Landtwing (Switzerland)||0:20:36|
|9||Michela Benzoni (Italy)||0:20:44|
|10||Sally Bigham (Great Britain)||0:24:47|
|11||Elena Gaddoni (Italy)||0:25:50|
|12||Kristine Noergaard (Denmark)||0:27:19|
|13||Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway)||0:28:16|
|14||Roberta Gasparini (Italy)||0:31:43|
|15||Katrin Schwing (Germany)||0:33:24|
|16||Jane Nussli (Great Britain)||0:33:29|
|17||Jennifer O Connor (New Zealand)||0:35:14|
|18||Arielle Boek - Van Meurs (Netherlands)||0:35:43|
|19||Asa Maria Erlandsson (Sweden)||0:36:51|
|20||Nina Duftner (Austria)||0:38:19|
|21||Ivonne Kraft (Germany)||0:39:20|
|22||Barbara Kaltenhauser (Germany)||0:41:43|
|23||Sandra Santanyes Murillo (Spain)||0:41:49|
|24||Mailin Franke (Germany)||0:43:19|
|25||Heather Holmes (United States Of America)||0:43:20|
|26||Melanie Spath (Germany)||0:44:44|
|27||Ivanda Eiduka (Latvia)||0:45:06|
|28||Nicoletta De Jager (Netherlands)||0:47:48|
|29||Theresia Kellermayr (Austria)||0:51:12|
|30||Alessia Ghezzo (Italy)||0:51:12|
|31||Kerstin Brachtendorf (Germany)||0:52:31|
|32||Anna Sadowska (Poland)||0:53:24|
|33||Elisabeth Unterbuchschachner (Austria)||0:53:38|
|34||Catherine Lohri (Switzerland)||0:54:39|
|35||Alexa Hüni (Germany)||0:56:39|
|36||Nina Homovec (Slovenia)||0:56:56|
|37||Verena Krenslehner (Austria)||0:59:40|
|38||Alena Krnacova (Czech Republic)||1:02:56|
|39||Beate Hauser (Austria)||1:06:44|
|40||Natalija Anderluh (Slovenia)||1:14:50|
|41||Mirre Stallen (Netherlands)||1:17:32|
|42||Gabriella Modos (Hungary)||1:23:53|
|43||Andrea Kirsic (Croatia)||1:24:46|
|44||Nina Kunz (Germany)||1:25:42|
|45||Justyna Fraczek (Poland)||1:30:24|
|46||Eszter Dosa (Hungary)||1:34:46|
|47||Nora Hacker (Austria)||1:44:20|
|48||Julia Jurcova (Slovakia)||1:53:18|
|49||Agnieszka Krok (Poland)||3:07:10|
|DNF||Blaza Klemencic (Slovenia)|
|DNF||Ruth Hagen (Austria)|
|DNF||Antonia Wipfli (Switzerland)|
|DNF||Anna Bickei (Romania)|
|DNF||Barbora Radova (Czech Republic)|
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.
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