GLASGOW (Reuters) - Switzerland’s world champion Jolanda Neff made light of a punishing course to ride away from the field in extraordinary fashion and add the European mountain biking gold medal to her world title on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old burst clear on the first of five laps of the dramatically undulating 28-kilometre course before stretching away to defeat even her nearest though distant challenger, France’s Pauline Ferrand Prevot, by more than two minutes.
The course, set at the highest point in the Glasgow city area at the Cathkin Braes trails, was so demanding that even Neff, at one point on the first lap, had to dismount and push her bike up one of the many steep inclines.
Yet once into her stride, she was in a different league to the opposition, relentlessly increasing her lead over each circuit until able to give a ‘wheelie’ in celebration just before crossing the line in one hour 31 minutes 29 seconds.
“I crashed and missed out on this title last year so it’s a dream for me,” said Neff, who was celebrating her third European crown in four years.
Ferrand Prevot clocked 1:33:33 with bronze medallist, Belgium’s Githa Michiels clocking 1:34:56.
Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Richard Balmforth