South Tyrol hosts one more international mega event in 2008. On Saturday 5th July 2008 the 6th UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships took place in Niederdorf - Hochpustertal.
The 6th UCI Marathon World Championships in Niederdorf/Villabassa will definitely go down in sports history. The five boroughs of Hochpustertal/Alta Pusteria, namely Niederdorf/Villabassa, Prags/Braies, Toblach/Dobbiaco, Sexten/Sesto and Innichen/San Candido with all their numerous volunteers did their job very well and at the weekend they harvested a lot of compliments by the International Cyclist Union UCI. The latter awarded the organizers with a trophy.
The Marathon WCH on Saturday were marked by the dramatic final with the crash between the absolute top favourites Roel Paulissen (Belgium/World Champion) and Christoph Sauser (Switzerland /Vice World Champion). The numerous audience utterly got its money worth.
The first World Championships were carried out in Lugano (Switzerland) in 2003. As subsequent venues there followed Bad Goisern (Austria, 2004), Lillehammer (Norway, 2005), Oisans (France, 2005) and Verviers (Belgium, 2007). The World Championships 2005 took place in the course of the Birkebeinerrittet Marathon in Lillehammer.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) has assigned the MTB World Championships to South Tyrol in Holland in 2006. Suedtirol Dolomiti Superbike has been successful against three other candidates; these were Cortina D'Ampezzo (I), Kirchzarten (D) und Madrid (SPA). The main factors for the decision were the successful proven courses, the fascinating scenery of the Dolomites, the excellent organisation and emergency management, the positive feedbacks from athletes as well as the extensive infrastructures.
The course of the World Championships will be 119.9 km for the men respectively 88.6 km for the women and runs in anti-clockwise direction like it was in 2006. In this way the first long climb leads to "Plaetzwiese", this usually has been the last and often race deciding climb.
The shortened course of the women leads straight to Toblach and leaves out the first ascent to "Plaetzwiese".
The start takes place on the main road by the central square of Niederdorf.
The duration of the race is estimated at 4.5 hours.
Gunn-Rita Dahle won the UCI MTB Marathon WCH title
The 35-year-old norwegian Olympic Champion Gunn-Rita Dahle won the UCI MTB Marathon World Championships title. Dahle did the 88,6 km (3040 vertical drop) in 4 hours 9 minutes and 56 seconds, preceding the second ranked Sabine Spitz (Germany) of 1 minute and 44 seconds. Late of 3 minutes and 39 seconds the Finnish Pia Sundstedt ranked third.
Fourth the Swiss Esther Süss. Best "Azzura" was the sixth ranked Elena Gaddoni with a delay of 16 minutes and 34 seconds in comparison to the winner. In total Gunn-Rita Dahle has won eight World Championships titles (4 Cross Country WCH and 4 Marathons).
Gunn-Rita Dahle: On the ascent to the "Rotwand" in Sexten/Sesto I was able to distance myself from my four contenders. Upwards onto the "Silvesteralm" my advance slightly decreased, however I was still able to get complete victory. Now I am going to go to Germany and from there I will fly directly to Canada where the next Cross Country World Cup takes place. From there the road leads directly to the Olympic Games in Peking. I did not expect this victory today. Mountain biking is my job and in any case I will keep on cycling until the Olympics 2012 in London.
Sabine Spitz: Unfortunately I did not test the course and this was surely a disadvantage. For this reason I had to lower my speed at the junctions and thus lost precious time. At the first ascent to the "Plätzwiese" there were still five of us. Unfortunately later I lost the alignment and so I rode alone for a long time. At the first Tech and Feed Zone Gunn-Rita Dahlen was already three minutes ahead. It was here in Niederdorf/Villabassa that I started with my real preparations for the Olympics.
Pia Sunstedt: The rhythm up to the "Rotwandhuette" was simply too fast for me. At the Kreuzbergpass/Passo Monte Croce I was two minutes behind Dahle. Shortly after that I gained on Sabine Spitz. Then we rode on together while Sabine took on the leading position. On the "Silvesteralm" we were still confident to be able to catch up with Gunn-Rita Dahlen. Unfortunately I was not able to do so and on top of that I had a flat tire on the back just 1.5 kilometres before the finish. Now I will make holidays at home in Finland. As our country does not have enough UCI points, for me Olympia is out of question.
First WCH title for Roel Paulissen
Roel Paulissen from Belgium is the new MTB Marathon World Champion in the men category. The fourth at the Olympics in Athens 2004 has been awarded the title in Niederdorf/Villabassa (Suedtirol/Alto Adige- Italy) after a decision by the UCI commissioner.
After 120 km of length and 3,822 m of vertical drop Paulissen crashed with Christoph Sauser at the finish. The silver medal was awarded to the Swiss.
Third was his fellow countrymen Urs Huber.
From rank four to seven there follow Leonardo Paez (Columbia) and the Swiss Ralph Näf, Lukas Buchli as well as Thomas Frischknecht. Best Italian participant was eighth-ranked Johnny Cattaneo.
Roel Paulissen: It is a strange feeling for both. None of us feels at ease. It would be nice if both of us could have won the World Champioships title. We were both very strong today and we attacked correctly. For a long time the Columbian Leonardo Paez was with us, but he did not collaborate. So we started an attack and he did not react to it any longer.
Christoph Sauser: I simply sprinted and whenever I sprint I naturally move my handle bar. It is a pity that only one UCI commissioner takes the decision and not a jury of four or five people. On a road sprint a decision of this kind would not have happened. I am disappointed, because it feels rather strange to ride through the finishing line as first and then to be ranked second. This is the toughest race I ever took part at. We risked our lives twice: firstly on the descents and then on the final sprint.