Games of the 30th Olympiad, London 2012
Mountain Bike - Julie Bresset France wins MTB
Hadleigh Farm, Essex,London2012
Julie Bresset (FRA) was as the front of the race from start to secure GOLD. Breaking free from a leading group of on lap 3, Bresset, benefited from a crash by 2008 Olympic MTB champion Sabine Spitz (GER) on the technical Devils Drop that gave space between Bresset, Spitz and American Georgia Gould. Bresset never looked trouble and had plenty of time to celebrate across the line 1 minute 2 seconds ahead of Spitz and Gould.
Bresset, is the youngest medal winner in women's mountain bike along side Sabine Spitz (GER) who at 40 years 228 days became the oldest woman to win a medal in mountain bike. Spitz is also the oldest medal winner in an individual cycling event in 12 years, since Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (FRA) was 41 years when she claimed bronze in the individual time trial in road cycling in 2000. Spitz won gold in 2008 and took bronze in 2004 and therefore became the first athlete to win a record three medals in mountain bike and now has all three different medals in this event.
Georgia Gould(USA) in claiming bronze became the first medal winner in mountain bike for the USA since Susan De Mattei, who took bronze in the inaugural event at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.
France have now won a record four gold medals in mountain bike, but Bresset was the first French woman to win gold.
Thirty riders started the tough 29.26km race, which took in just over 6 laps of the Hadleigh Farm course. Overlooking the Thames estuary 20000 spectators turned up to watch the women race.
As soon as the race race started the riders were going up hill to the Triple Trouble switch back climb, British rider Annie Last set the early pace. She and a group of ten riders that included pre race favourite Catherine Pendrel (CAN), Spitz, Bresset, Gould, Russian Irina Kalentieva, Katrin Leuman (SUI), Norways hope for a medal, Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa, Alexandra Dawidowicz (POL), Blaza Klemencic .
The lead switched between the front group of riders as thy dropped down before climbing again to start the very technical Deane's Drop, which was full of large boulders and rock steps. Dawidowicz (POL) crash an caused a split in the group on the fast descent.
The race was fast as the leaders dropped to the flat bottom part of the course before climbing Snake Hill. A leading group formed. Last set the pace up the tight climb. As Bresset tried to pass Last (GBR), she caught herself on the netting an stopped everyone behind for a moment. Bresset had to chase back hard to Last and a split formed as the leaders crossed the start/finish area. Ten riders had a 20 second gap. The only missing rider from the original group was the Polish rider who had crashed again.
On lap two the pace at the front of the race was brutal. Bresset attacked on Deane's Drop again and split the leaders. Spitz gave chase with Pendrel (CAN) and Gould. Last was 11 seconds behind with Kalentieva.
Pendrel crashed in the rock garden and was forced to chase but could not catch the leaders.
With three laps to go the Bresset led across the line just ahead of Spitz and Gould. The defining break for Bresset came on Devils Drop. A tough rocky section that Bresset cleared easily but Spitz crashed. In doing so she held up Gould too.
Bresset too advantage and increased her lead to 20 seconds. After 52 minutes of racing, Bresset was increasing her lead. A the bell Spitz and Gould were 57 seconds behind.
In the end Bresset rode into the finishing area a clear winner. She crossed the line, French flag aloft with time to celebrate. Spitz was too strong for Gould and crossed in second 1 minute 2 seconds behind. Gould held on for Bronze.
Julie Bresset (FRA) - gold, was a deserving winner,she pulled clear midway through the race to win gold: "I'm very happy. It's amazing to win today. I hoped to win a medal and a gold medal is unbelievable. I started well, I took the front of the race and I managed it well. When I had a gap I told myself: 'Now, I should go'. I led until the finish and I'm very content."
On her family and the French team: "I dedicate this win to my family, my parents who were here in the tribune. A big kiss to all the people who followed me, to the French team, who supported me for the all season."
On winning France's first female Olympic gold medal in mountain bike: "I still can't realise it. It's unbelievable."
On the chances of Julien Absalon (FRA) winning the men's race Sunday: "I hope he will do the same. He's capable of it. Sharing this result with him would be amazing. I hope my achievement can bring good luck to the French team."
On if she was nervous before the race: "Yes, I had a big pressure."
Sabine SPITZ (GER) - silver, on winning silver to go with her other Olympic medals: "Now I have the complete collection. After bronze in Athens, gold in Beijing, I've got silver, so I am very satisfied. I always had a medal on my mind."
On her crash in lap four when she fell over her handlebars: "In the fourth lap, when I went over the handlebar, I hurt my knee a bit. That broke my rhythm for a short time. Thank God nothing was wrong with the bike, so I could keep on going. Georgia [Gould, USA] passed me on that lap, but I could stay on her tail until I could recover my rhythm, that was a good thing. In the last lap, I gave everything I could. It has to be that way, because if you do not do that, then you're in the wrong place."
Georgia GOULD (USA) - bronze on her bad start in the race: "At the beginning I was kind of in the back. It took me a while to get up to the front and I had a really bad start, and then I finally caught up to that lead group. I was lucky that they were playing cat and mouse a little bit because it took me a while to move up."
On how the medals were decided: "I was riding in the top three. We were together then Sabine (Spitz) made a little mistake in one of the rock sections and she had to get off her bike, so I had to get off my bike and that was what allowed Julie (Bresset) to get that initial gap. Then we were back and forth a little bit, me and Sabine. She was a little bit stronger there in the end."
On her approach to the race: "I was trying to be a little bit conservative, too. I didn't want to take too many risks. I've had some races this season when things were going really well then some bad luck or a little mistake cost me the race so I just tried to keep it together to the finish. I was just so glad I was able to."
On being confident of a medal: "No, I have done that a couple of times this year and you never know until you cross the finish line so I have really tried to not think about that, stay focused and pretend it is a race like any other race, not the Olympics."
Rebecca Henderson (AUS) at just 21 was brought to this Olympics for the experience. Although she has been racing on the world cup circuit this year, the U23 Australian champion did not have high expectations of a medal, " I am so tired after that. I am shattered, It was such a tough course and the atmosphere was amazing. I have never been to anything like this it is completely overwhelming."
On her expectations, "Honestly, I did not have any expectations here. It is the best women in the world here. Just being here is an amazing experience."
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (NOR) started as one of the favourites, she abandoned after a rough start to the six-lap race: "I crashed on that first rocky section in the beginning, so that really destroyed the whole race in many ways. I never got back in my kind of working zone at all. Stupid stressing mistakes sometimes happen. The worst start that you could ever imagine happened, but that's the case and then I struggled to get back. I'm in super shape, but kind of overpaced myself a little bit because I wanted to catch up what I lost in the beginning. Then, when I punctured I just thought: 'Well this is just the day that everything goes the wrong way and nothing is with me.'"
On having raced in every Olympic Games since 1996: "There's a lot of changes, of course, especially with the bikes. In Atlanta in 1996 the bikes were 12.5kg, in Athens it was 10.4kg, and now we have bigger bikes, but it's only 8.5kg. In the equipment, there is a huge difference, and in the level. I know I'm one of the top contenders when it comes to shape right now, because I've been winning big races this season. I was not in there today because of shit happening in the beginning, but I think the level is not that much higher. There are several girls that can fight for the top three and we saw a little bit of that today."
On whether she will compete in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games: "I hope so, I love my job, so yes."
Irina KALENTIEVA (RUS) - 4th On how she enjoyed the course: "I like it, it really looks like the one in Beijing, I felt really very comfortable. Generally I like the whole track. The course was opened on 7 August and I had a chance to train as soon as I arrived. All the athletes had the same chance."
On asked if she had a plan for the race: "Of course I have a plan to get a gold medal and it seemed to be real, but unfortunately there was a collision with another rider that proved crucial."
On coming fourth in the race: "I felt sure I could get something (a medal). I am fit and in good physical form. The track was good, but unfortunately problems like the collision are unpredictable. I had all the chances."
Annie LAST (GBR) - 8th On her fast start to lead after lap one: "I went really hard on the first lap. I started to pay for it a bit, but I wanted to make sure I got clear at the start and avoid any problems. Towards the end of the race, I decided to sit back a little bit. I came today and I just wanted to get the best out of myself. I am really, really happy. You see the wheels riding away, but all you can do is try to make yourself as fast as possible."
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