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Loana Lecomte (France) added to her sparkling palmares winning her first elite women’s cross-country mountain bike title at the European Championships in Munich on Saturday.
Thriving in the rain and mud conditions, Lecomte took the victory ahead of her compatriot Pauline Ferrand-Prévot by 37 seconds and Anne Terpstra (Netherlands) by 3:08 in Munich.
“I’m very happy for today’s race because I like all conditions, but when there is rain and a lot of mud, I know a lot of riders don’t like these condition. It’s every time, a pleasure to ride in the mud because it’s fun and I like it,” Lecomte said.
The women raced 30km across a 4.27km-course at the Olympiapark for seven laps. The initial laps of the race was hampered by bad weather. Right from the start the two French riders Ferrand-Prévot and Lecomte stayed comfortably in the lead.
Ferrand-Prévot, the defending champion, made a solo attack, however, on lap 2 she had a mechanical problem and was overtaken by Lecomte, and could not regain the lost ground on her compatriot.
“Loana passed me. I had a one minute gap (behind Lecomte), so I tried to close the gap, but I think it was impossible,” Ferrand-Prévot said on the mechanical.”
Lecomte acknowledged that mechanicals of this nature are part of mountain biking and nevertheless she was pleased that both she and Ferrand-Prévot stood on the podium in first and second place.
“We had a good start with Pauline, but she had a mechanical problem. When she had this problem, she was a little bit behind me, so I passed her and so this is a race of mountain biking, and every race is different,” Lecomte said.
Lecomte rode a technically smooth race and had no other opponents on her way and the victory, as Ferrand-Prévot crossed the line in second and Terpstra in third.
Lecomte adds to her list of achievements that includes two-time elite national championships titles, 2021 overall World Cup winner after claiming four rounds in Albstadt, Nové Mesto, Leogang and Les Gets. This season, she won World Cup rounds at Leogang and Lenzerheide.
“A major competition like a World or European Championships is always different, because there’s a jersey at stake and you can wear it for all of next season,” she said.
The next edition of the Elite MTB European Championships will take place on June 25, 2023 in Krakov-Małopolska, Poland.
Having claimed two rounds of the UCI Mountain Bike World cup this season, on top of a second straight national title, Lecomte will be one of the favourite for next week’s UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Les Gets, less than one hour from her hometown Annecy, in France.
“I hope to be able to ride for the medals again. I did the work, I prepared well, so we will see,” she said.