MountainBike Cross Country
5 laps - 31.3km
On a course which has been amended slightly, due to a fire on 18th August, the riders will compete over 5 laps of the Parnitha Olympic Mountain Bike Venue in Metochi. The course has 2 climbs and a downhill section and is considered to be a technical course - moreso since the re-routing.
If Paolo Pezzo is able to defend her title, she will be the only woman to have won the MTB X-C in the Olympic Games - having won gold in Atlanta, the first time the event was included in the Games and then successfully defending her title in Sydney, 4 years ago. Pezzo retired from MTB in 2002, but has come back to defend her medal. She was a 1994, Lillehammar Olympics competitor in the cross country skiing event.
There are others who will be determined to stop her, including Canada's Alyson Sydor, who said at the Canadian Team's press conference that she "may not be the most talented rider, but I try and compensate by being the best prepared." Sydor was the silver medallist in Sydney. Bronze medal winner in Sydney. Spaniard Marga Fullana is also on the start list.
Amongst the others in contention are : 2003 world champion Sabine Spitz (Ger) and 2002 world champion Gunn-Rita Dahle (Nor). Dahle is currently leading the season-long World Cup too.
Start list and results detail courtesy Athens2004.com
With the temperature rising from a comfortable 22'C to around 30'C during the event, the riders were faced with a dusty course which heated up and dried out too - as the humidity dropped.
The final positions were sorted out early into the race and confirmed at the bell lap. Dahle led Premont by over 1 1/2 minutes at the bell. Premont was followed by Spitz and Sydor across the line at the bell. Dahle was seemingly confirming her form of 2004 with this ride. She has won 5 from 5 outings in the World Cup so far.
During the final lap, Dahle's advantage waned slightly as she firstly had gear problems and then secondly relished her victory. As she rode up the finishing straight, took the time to take a Norwegian flag from a spectator and fly it above her head as she crossed the finish line.
Premont finished a 59seconds later, found Dahle and gave her a congratulatory hug.
The pair then waited for bronze medallist, current World Champion, Sabine Spitz to finish.
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