Frischknecht Wins World Marathon Title|
Monday, September 01, 2003
Lugano, Switzerland (August 31, 2003) –After 78km of racing over selective terrain amidst harsh, windy conditions, the battle for the World Mountain Bike Marathon Championship came down to the final 100 meters as hometown hero Thomas Frischknecht (SUI) outsprinted Bart Brentjens (NED) at the finish line to claim the first ever world marathon title. Carsten Bresser (GER) rounded out the podium in third, four minutes behind the leaders.
Americans Jimi Mortensen (Eagle, Colo.) and Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va.) each turned in respectable performances against the world’s best off-road endurance riders as Mortensen claimed 29th place with a time of 4h5’25", while Bishop clocked a time of 4h13’02", good enough for 48th place.
The course, a challenging trek through the foothills of the Swiss Alps, featured 1,014 riders vying for the title of World Champion. With over 9300 feet of climbing and strong Alpine winds, the elements and topography alone provided enough opportunity for the favorites to sort themselves out at the front of the race. Frischknecht and Brentjens approached the final climb of the day together, holding two of the top three spots. By the top of the climb, however, it was Frenchman Thomas Dietsch who opened up a gap of over two minutes on the nearest rider, a lead that would eventually disappear after the misfortune of a flat tire in the last 10km nullified his lead, allowing Frischknecht and Brentjens to eventually catch, and pass Dietsch, setting up the exciting sprint finish. As the duo entered Cornaredo Stadium, where one lap on the athletics track was all that remained, the leaders ran neck and neck as the sprint started with 300m remaining. With 100m to go, Frischknecht managed to pull away and win by a couple of meters, adding the rainbow jersey in marathon racing to his long list of accomplishments.
Afterwards, Frischknecht commented on his day. "I thought if I had a good race in the marathon it would give me motivation for the cross country. Winning the rainbow jersey is always something you dream of. When I was 18 and 21, I won it in cyclocross, but then I didn’t really understand what it meant. In 1991, I also won it in cyclocross, but then I had to go into the army for 12 weeks the very next day so I really didn’t have time to enjoy it. Now, after 13 years of trying, I finally have it and it means a lot. It is a nice way to finish my career."
Bishop, who will also compete for the U.S. National Team in Sunday’s cross country event, endured the difficult conditions after suffering a little bit of hard luck before the race even began after the airlines lost his wheels. After previewing the course in sneakers and street clothes on a bike borrowed from the hotel manager, Bishop rode an impressive race on borrowed wheels in preparation for Sunday’s main event. "The course was more difficult than it looked on paper", Bishop explained afterwards. "I felt as though I did 100 miles." Because of the windy conditions, tactics played a part in the otherwise test of endurance. "I tried to ride with groups of guys when it was very windy and drafting played a big role", Bishop commented. "It really showed if you had a bad moment because an entire group would pass you if you made a mistake."
Mortensen, who finished 17th in the NORBA NCS overall rankings, will also compete in Sunday’s cross country event alongside Bishop and other Team USA members, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.), Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.) Carl Decker (Bend, Ore.), Carl Swenson (Park City, Utah).
In the women’s event, Maja Wloszcowska (POL) claimed the world title ahead of her teammate, Magdalena Sadlecka, and third place finisher, Germany’s Sandra Klose. Melissa Thomas (Boulder, Colo.) lead home the Americans with a 28th place finish in a time of 5h21’46", 49 minutes off the winning pace set by Wloszcowska. Gretchen Reeves (Eagle, Colo.) placed 32nd in a time of 5h27’56". Reeves will also double up and compete in the cross country event, unlike Thomas, who will leave Lugano with a strong performance in the marathon to her credit.
Wloszcowska, who’s first ever attempt at a marathon brought her a world championship, didn’t expect success. "At the beginning, it was mostly training, but then I found myself in first place", she said. "I didn’t expect to win, and really just wanted to finish. 78km is long for women, especially on this course with the difficult downhills and strong winds at the top of the mountain."
The UCI World Mountain Bike Championships continue on Wednesday with the junior women’s cross country event and the team relay. Full coverage can be found at www.usacycling.org, including a picture gallery from all the events at www.usacycling.org/gallery.
1. Thomas Frischknecht (SUI) 3:48:01.9
2. Bart Brentjens (NED) 3:48:03.3
3. Carsten Bresser (GER) 3:52:01.3
29. Jimi Mortensen (USA) 4:05:25.7
48. Jeremiah Bishop (USA) 4:13:02.7
1. Maja Wloszcowska (POL) 4:32:06.7
2. Magdalena Sadleka (POL) 4:36:57.1
3. Sandra Klose (GER) 4:41:27.2
28. Melissa Thomas (USA) 5:21:46.3
32. Gretchen Reeves (USA) 5:27:56. 6