Osl beats pre-race favourites

2009-04-12 00:00

Austrian champion Elisabeth Osl put on a dominant display to lead from start to finish and thrash the pre-race favourites in the women’s cross-country at the first round of the 2009 Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup on Saturday.

The 22-year-old, who rides for Team Central/Ghost, got the quickest start of the 50-rider strong field and reached the first singletrack section in front, completing the first of five laps of the 4,7-km course in a snappy 19 minutes and 39 seconds.

Once in the lead she maintained a relentless pace, completing the remaining laps in the low 20s and steadily pulling clear of the strong field that included Spain’s current world champion Margarita Fullana (Massi) and Olympic champion, Germany’s Sabine Spitz (Team Central/Ghost).

Steep climbs were the dominant feature of the route, which also suited 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Irina Kalentieva (Topeak Ergon). The little Russian spent much of the race in second position, but her initial pursuit of Osl later became survival as she successfully held off a charging Lene Byberg (Specialized Factory Racing) from Norway.

An emotional Osl crossed the finish line in one hour, 40 minutes and 50 seconds, with Kalentieva just over two minutes behind. Byberg secured third place with Fullana in fourth and American champion Mary McConnelough rounding out the top five.

“It was fantastic. The course was great. The long uphills hit the body constantly. It was great to go to the front so early from the start, as last year I was having problems with my start, but today I hit the front and looked back and no one was coming. I felt comfortable, but kept pushing,” said a delighted Osl.

“It was a tough race for me. Not what I expected,” said Spitz, who was expected to at least finish on the podium.

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