UCI MTB Marathon World Championships: Gold for Langvad and Kulhavy
In the absence of the title holder Gunn Rita Dahle, Annika Langvad was the favourite to win the title in Pietermaritzburg. She lived up to expectations at this first UCI MTB Marathon World Championships to be held on African soil: after 2011 and 2012, the 30-year-old Danish athlete won her third title over the long distance: she did so with aplomb, finishing the race in 3h50’53”, 5’26 ahead of Germany’s Sabine Spitz. European Champion Tereza Hurikova (CZE) took bronze, 8’56 off the winning pace.
After winning the Cape Epic at the beginning of the year, Langvad again showed stunning form in South Africa: “I rapidly realised that is was my day. I didn’t want to wait and I rode at my rhythm.”
Men: Kulhavy two years later
Author of a double UCI World Cup and UCI XCO World Championships in 2011 then Olympic Champion in London 2012, Jaroslav Kulhavy had rarely climbed onto the highest step of the podium since. However he finished last season in style, winning the final round of the UCI World Cup Olympic cross-country in Hafjell (Norway). But the rider from Specialized Racing XC was forced to stop for two months this winter after a car accident.
By winning the world title for the first time in the MTB marathon, he has shown that he is back at the top of the world hierarchy. He also becomes the third man (after Frischknecht and Sauser) to win the UCI World Championships in both the XCO and the Marathon. But above all he goes down in the history books: “I am really pleased and proud by what I have achieved today. I am the first athlete to have won all the mountain bike titles... after breaking my kneecap this winter, it’s amazing to win today.”
The rider from Prague covered the 95km in 4h15’58” ahead of Austria’s Alban Lakata, who was 3’18 further behind. Reigning champion Christoph Sauser fought back after a technical problem to take the bronze medal, finishing 4’13” behind Kulhavy.
The team Specialized Racing XC is another big winner of the day with two titles and two bronze medals (Sauser – Hurikova).