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Spitz Wins Germany's First Cycling Gold at Beijing Olympics
    2008-08-23 12:11:47     Xinhua

Sabine Spitz of Germany competes during the women's cross country of the Beijing Olymic Games cycling-mountain bike event at Laoshan Mountain Bike Course in Beijing, China, Aug. 23, 2008. Sabine Spitz of Germany claimed the title in this event with a time of 1:45.11. [Photo: Xinhua]

Related: Medal Winners of Women's Mountain Bike Cross Country at Beijing Games

               Final Results of Women's Mountain Bike Cross Country at Beijing Games

Sabine Spitz claimed Germany's first cycling gold at the Beijing Olympics after winning the women's mountain bike cross country on Saturday.

Spitz dominated the race from the first lap to the last, clocking one hour, 45 minutes and 11 seconds for the gold medal.

"It is a dream come true. I was very happy, because from the beginning I could make the race at the front and set the speed," Spitz said.

Crossing the finish line, she got off her bike and took it above her head to give herself a spectacular celebration with the German flag on her back.

"I thought the Polish rider would have been stronger, my target is to shock the opponent in the race, but to happen in this way is a big surprise," she added.

Maja Wloszczowska of Poland took the silver in 1:45:52, while the bronze medal went to Irina Kalentyeva of Russia in 1:46:28.

"Of course I want a gold, but German's rider was too fast. I think I need to have more power on the last lap, but I am satisfied with the silver," Wloszczowska said.

Six-time World Cup champion Marie Helene Premont of Canada took the lead from the very beginning, but it was Spitz who broke out at the end of the first lap to establish the lead.

"After the first downhill, I saw I could pass her (Premont) and take the lead," Spitz said.

The Athen's bronze medallist demonstrated her climbing skills and endurance to expand her lead to more than one minute after three laps, followed by a group of six riders with Chinese medal hopeful Liu Ying placed fourth.

"I had a powerful start but my energy went down little by little. I didn't have strength to keep for the rest of the race," Liu said.

The Germany's women cyclist of the year kept her leading position for the fourth and fifth lap as Maja Wloszczowska pulled out to get the second place, followed by Catharine Pendrel of Canada and Russian Irian Kalentyeva, while Chinese Liu Ying fell to the six.

Liu finally placed 12th, while another Chinese biker Ren Chengyuan finished fifth.

"The gear went wrong when I started, which greatly affected my riding throughout the competition. I had to continue the race with a broken gear. I couldn't get it repaired because it would take time," explained Ren, who won China's first world cup title last year in Belgium.

Defending champion Gunn Rita Dahle Flesjaa of Norway dropped out after only completing for three laps due to her bike's mechanical problems.

The Laoshan course is 4.5 kilometers long, and features a hard-pack track with a number of small climbs through heavy brush and woods. Women bikers need to ride six laps for the race.

Changes were made to the course to make it more technical, adding more banked curves, drops, rock and new climbs and descents after riders complained it lacked challenge at the Good Luck Beijing invitational event.

The women's mountain bike cross country race was previously scheduled on Friday, but was postponed to Saturday because of Thursday's rain.

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The Forbidden City
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Beijing "siheyuan" (Chinese traditional courtyard houses)
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Wangfujing Street
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