By Andrew Hood
Marga Fullana scored a big victory over the seemingly unbeatable Gunn-Rita Dahle by taking gold in Sunday’s European mountain bike championships in Italy. The rail-thin Spanish rider from Mallorca took 1:31 out of the Norwegian dominator to claim her biggest win in years.
“I dedicate this win to all those who kept believing in me,” said Fullana, who scored silver at the Sydney Olympic Games, but faded out of the picture following a string of personal problems. “I have demonstrated that I am still here, that I have fully recovered and have confidence I can return to be on the highest steps of the podium on the competitions I race.”
The victory marks a comeback for Fullana, who has been nudging toward a big win all season. Coming through second was Dahle and taking bronze was Sabine Spitz at 2:30 back.
“It’s the first time in years I’ve seen rider that much better than the Norwegian,” said Spanish national coach Mikel Zabala. “Gunn-Rita has been the best racer in the past few years with a big different and finally someone has beaten her with strength and courage.”
In the men’s race, Julien Absalon pushed Christophe Sauser into second place by 28 seconds with Ralph Naef coming through third for bronze.