HADLEIGH FARM, United Kingdom, Aug 11, 2012 (AFP) – France’s Julie Bresset
capped an extraordinary year by storming to victory in the women’s mountain
bike cross country to claim her maiden Olympic title on Saturday.
Germany veteran Sabine Spitz claimed the silver to complete her Olympic
collection with Georgia Gould of the United States winning the bronze as
British gold contender Annie Last finished in eighth.
Bresset was among an early group of fast pace-setters on the Hadleigh Farm
course and their punishing rhythm thinned out the field over the first two of
the race’s six laps.
By the end of the third lap the 23-year-old Frenchwoman had opened up a
slight lead on Spitz and the rest.
A lap further on, she increased her advantage to 33secs after Spitz and
Gould were momentarily held up when the German came off her bike on a rocky
“I wanted to be at the front, to be in control of things in the technical
parts so as not to lose any precious time,” said Bresset.
“I was really concentrated from start to finish. I knew when I had to drink
and to eat, I wanted to have every angle covered.”
It was only last year Bresset won the under-23 world title but since then
she has claimed victory in the 2012 World Cup series.
Yet she admitted beating a strong field which contained Canada’s world
champion Catharine Pendrel and Last to the Olympic title was the last thing on
“To be quite honest, I never thought I’d be capable of achieving what I’ve
achieved today,” she said.
Only a mishap on one of the several technical sections on the course looked
likely to threaten Bresset’s charge towards the gold medal.
But she avoided the potential dangers in the ‘Rock Garden’, ‘Dean’s Drop’,
‘Snake Hill’ and the ‘Rabbit Hole’ to leave her rivals playing a desperate
game of catch-up.
Bresset went on to finish the race in 1hr 30min 52sec, with defending
champion Spitz coming over the finish line at 1min 02sec and Gould crossing at
At 40 years and 228 days old, Spitz became the oldest medal winner in an
individual cycling event since Jeannie Longo won time trial bronze in Sydney
2000 at the age of 41.
Having won silver in Athens and gold in Beijing, she was delighted at
completing her medals collection.
“It’s amazing, the three different medals. It’s perfect,” said Spitz.
“When I crashed I lost a bit of my rhythm, it took me half a lap to get it
back. Georgia overtook me but I managed to stay on her wheel. By that time,
Julie was 33secs in the lead and the gap just got bigger and bigger.”
Gould had a comparatively slow start and despite fighting her way to the
front said all hope of chasing down Bresset was ended by the German’s crash.
“We were together then Sabine 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 to get that initial gap,” said Gould.
“Then we were back and forth a little bit, me and Sabine. She was a little
bit stronger there in the end.”
1. Julie Bresset (FRA) 1h30:52
(Average speed 19.3 km/h)
2. Sabine Spitz (GER) at 1:02
3. Georgia Gould (USA) 1:08
4. Irina Kalentieva (RUS) 1:41
5. Esther Suss (SWI) 1:54
6. Alexandra Engen (SWE) 2:16
7. Aleksandra Dawidowicz (POL) 2:28
8. Annie Last (GBR) 2:55
9. Catharine Pendrel (CAN) 3:36
10. Tanja Zakelj (SLO) 3:49
11. Lea Davison (USA) 4:22
12. Shi Qinglan (CHN) 4:36
13. Yana Belomoyna (UKR) 4:54
14. Katerina Nash (CZE) 5:30
15. Elisabeth Osl (AUT) 5:55