The top three women in the current World Cup standings share the podium at the European Championship: The World Cup leader Tanja Zankelj wins the gold medal. Eva Lechner from Italy, third in the World Cup, gets silver, narrowly beating Polish bronze medal winner Maja Wloszczowska, who herself is currently second in the World Cup. Katrin Leumann put in a strong word for the Swiss team, finishing fifth.
The beginning of the race, in light rain, was very hectic. Tanja Zankelj, leading the pack, fell in the last curve leading up to the jump combination. The following cyclists had to brake hard and turn around to use the “chicken line”, as one can only master the jump combination if a certain speed is attained.
Tanja Zankelj recovered very fast, and quickly rejoined the leaders. She retook the lead shortly after and continuously increased it throughout the race. The strategy of the new European Champion proved right: “I wanted to be part of the leading pack, and then see how I feel during the race. I think it was in the third round when a cyclist behind me made a mistake and I was able to open a bit of a gap. From there on I just sought to keep up the pace, which did indeed secure me the victory.”
For much of the race it looked as if Katrin Leumann would also be involved in the fight for the medals. But in the final stage Lechner and Wloszczowska as well as the Czech athlete Katerina Nash managed to get passed the Swiss hopeful. Katrin Leumann, last year’s European Champion, explained after the race: “I got cramps in my ties and knew that if I keep on pushing there would be a risk of falling back further or even having to quit the race. At the end, I hoped to catch up with the frontrunners or that they would make a mistake. But they were all too strong today.”
Esther Süss, silver medal winner at the 2012 European Championship in Moscow, was thrown back by a fall in the early stages of the race. She finished the race in sixth position, one place behind her fellow countrywoman Leumann.
Results XCO Elite Women
1. Tanja Zakelj (SLO) 1:34:33. 2. Eva Lechner (ITA) 1:35:11. 3. Maja Wloszczowska (POL) 1:36:08. 4. Katerina Nash (CZE) 1:36:29. 5. Katrin Leumann (Riehen) 1:36:43. 6. Esther Suess (Küttigen) 1:37:49. 7. Julie Bresset (FRA) 1:37:55. 8. Elisabeth Osl (AUT) 1:38:52. 9. Katarzyna Solus-Miskowicz (POL) 1:39:16. 10. Irina Kalentieva (RUS) 1:39:16. Ferner: 11. Nathalie Schneitter (Lommiswil) 1:40:21. 20. Corina Gantenbein (Klosters) 1:44:06
Verfasser: Martin Platter & Benjamin Blaser / 23.06.2013