UCI World Marathon Championships
Event: 29 June 2013
Location: Brixental, Kirchberg, Austria
Report: Eddie Allen
Great Britain’s Sally Bigham has had the biggest result in her professional career, bagging the silver medal at the World Marathon Championships on Saturday.
Bigham took the silver medal behind mountain bike legend Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjja of Norway in the challenging 85-kilometre race in Kirchberg, Austria. Bigham was left chasing in fifth position after a blistering start from the Norwegian team catapulted Dahle Flesjja into the lead on the first climb.
However the British rider dug in and caught Esther Suss, Annika Langvad and Blaza Klemencic, leaving Bigham in second place by the time she reached the first descent.
Bigham maintained second place for the remainder of the race, the gap between herself and Dahle Flesjja yo-yoing throughout, coming down to 30 seconds at one point. However, the Norwegian multiple world and Olympic champion dug deep every time she sensed Bigham on her trail and maintained her lead, leading Bigham to make the decision to play safe and consolidate the silver medal position.
With a course slick from a week of rain preceding the event, a controlled ride was Bigham’s best bet of bringing home a medal, something that she’d targeted from the outset.
"I am genuinely thrilled with silver. At times I thought it was possible to win, but Gunn-Rita was very strong and tactically smart. To take silver to an eight time world champion is not something to be disappointed about."
After over four and a half hours and 3700 metres of climbing, an elated Bigham crossed the line three minutes and 48 seconds behind Dahle Flesjja to collect her first ever world championships medal, with Switzerland’s Esther Suss a further three and a half minutes back from Bigham collecting bronze.
In her blog for xcracer.com Bigham described her feelings upon achieving her career best result: “I am genuinely thrilled with silver. At times I thought it was possible to win, but Gunn-Rita was very strong and tactically smart. To take silver to an eight time world champion is not something to be disappointed about.”
Bigham was one of five British riders competing at Kirchberg, with Catherine Hare Willianson and Jane Nussli taking 15th and 16th, while Rachel Fenton finished in 50th. Meanwhile in the men's event Ben Thomas finished 51st.
1 Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway) 4:35:30
2 Sally Bigham (Great Britain) 0:03:48
3 Esther Süss (Switzerland) 0:07:19
4 Annika Langvad (Denmark) 0:11:26
5 Blaza Klemencic (Slovenia) 0:12:33
6 Tereza Hurikova (Czech Republic) 0:12:57
7 Ariane Kleinhans (Switzerland) 0:17:05
8 Michalina Ziolkowska (Poland) 0:19:00
9 Daniela Veronesi (Italy) 0:23:46
10 Elisabeth Osl (Austria) 0:24:47
15 Catherine Hare Willianson (Great Britain) 0:31:16
16 Jane Nussli (Great Britain) 0:31:23
50 Rachel Fenton (Great Britain) 1:45:59