The 23-year-old Swiss champion, Jolanda Neff, from the Stöckli Pro Team, won the World Mountain Bike Marathon Championship in Laissac in France on 26 June 2016.
70 km with 2,350 metres in uphill climbs in 3h 56’ 57’’’. An excellent performance, but nothing unusual there, for a star rider of her calibre. It is the story that led her to win the Rainbow Jersey that deserves to be told: it was a story to laugh about (for her) and to cry about (for the defending champion, Annika Langvad).
On the first climb of the day, the Danish rider Langvad stretched out a lead over the small group of 3 consisting of Neff, the English cyclist Sally Bigham, and the French “hostess” Sabrina Enaux; the pace was high and there was a battle for second place behind her. Or that’s what it seemed. Enaux and Bigham, however, couldn’t match Jolanda’s pace and they dropped behind.
In top form in the saddle
The Swiss rider had the strength and heart and gave it all she could in her attempt to catch up with the leader, aided by the outstanding features of her saddle, a technical item that is crucial in achieving top performance in such close races. In this instance, she had the SLR Kit Carbonio Flow made by Selle Italia, with a CarbonKeramic rail of almost unbelievable lightness, combined with extremely high firmness and strength, guaranteed through extremely strict tests.
On this occasion, however, every effort seemed pointless: the advantage over the two behind her was reassuring, so better to settle for second place rather than blowing a fuse.
A “Golden” surprise
With the finishing post in sight, she was satisfied with her good performance and her place on the podium, but there was a surprise. A golden surprise, you might say.
On her arrival, in fact, she was amazed at the congratulations she received, and learnt to her surprise that Langvad had taken a wrong turn and that she had overtaken her without realising it.
World Champion without her knowing it: a title that seems almost unbelievable and that was certainly missing from the already rich array of the young biker, but one that is certainly, totally deserved.
For the record, Jolanda Neff was 2’34” in front of the British rider Sally Bigham and over 5 minutes in front of Sabrina Enaux. Annika Langvad finished a long way off, away from the podium.
2016 World MTB Marathon order of arrival
1) Jolanda Neff (Switzlerand) in 3h56’57’’
2) Sally Bigham (UK) +2’34”
3) Sabrina Enaux (France) +5’33”
4) Ariane Kleinhans (Switzlerand) +7’06”
5) Mara Fumagalli (Italy) +8’52”
6) Valentina Frasisti (Italy) +13’12”
7) Helene Marcouyre (France) +14’10”
8) Christina Kollmann (Austria) +15’30”
9) Annika Langvad (Denmark) +15’20”
10) Nathalie Schneitter (Switzlerand) +17’59”