Natalia Fischer won gold at the Mountain Bike European Championship. / SUR

Estepona's Natalia Fischer wins gold at European mountain bike championship

The marathon biker completed the 90-kilometre race in 4:09:07, four minutes ahead of second place

MARINA RIVAS

Natalia Fischer became continental champion once again as she won gold in the European Mountain Bike Championships in the Czech Republic on Sunday. The Estepona cyclist defied all odds to win the marathon category in two consecutive years, after also picking up a gold medal in 2021 in Switzerland.

The marathon race, which is her specialty, was 90 kilometres long and had a 1,900-metre incline. Fischer recorded the fastest time with a 4:09:07 but there was no need for a photo finish, as the Spaniard proved to be well ahead of the pack and began to pull away at the halfway point in the race.

Fischer had gone into Sunday's race having suffered a fall in her world championship outing the week before, which meant she appeared in the Czech Republic event with a dressing on her collar bone.

"The race was very tough, and hot," Fischer said after crossing the finish line, drenched in sweat. "The start was quite flat and that meant the frontrunners tried to shine; before the halfway point of the race I attacked and pulled away on my own, from kilometre 35 until the end."

A tough year

Fischer's pace meant that she finished four minutes ahead of Janina Wust, in second, and Natalia Peretti, in third. This gold medal will mean a lot for the Spaniard, a huge morale boost in what has been a turbulent season full of injury, falls and other complications.

With the horizon looking more positive, her recent victory comes after a bronze medal at the Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships in 2021, the crown jewel in the Spaniard's trophy cabinet.

Fischer's upcoming challenges are the World Cup, the World Championships, the European Championships and the Spanish Cross Country Championship, which is the toughest event of them all and with which she hopes to qualify for the 2024 Olympics.