Jason English and Jessica Douglas became the first WEMBO 24 hour solo world champions in the toughest single day mountain bike race in the world.
Riders from Europe, Australia and America competed over 17.16km of perfect trails, skirting the cliffs, high above the town of Finale Ligure. The course is well-known by Europe’s 24-hour riders, having hosted events for over a decade and it proved a real challenge with its fast descents and sharp climbs.
In the men’s race, the Australian champion, English, completed 22 laps of the challenging course to take the win, Jessica Douglas (Australia) tackled Rickie Cotter (UK) to take the women’s title.
In early running Thomas Widhalm (Austria) looked like he was going to push all the way for the victory, just a bike length separated the pair for the first five and a half hours. Around sunset a mechanical problem cost him dearly and his misery was compounded by a stomach complaint in the early hours of the morning, taking him out of the race. Before Widhalm succumbed to illness, English had already began to mark his dominance and while Widhalm was dealing with his mechanical yesterday evening, English put in two blistering laps to pull out a sizeable lead going into the night. By the time racing finished at 13.00 on Sunday, he had completed 22 laps of the course – just under 380km in 24 hours. Through the night England’s Jason Miles put in a heroic performance to rise through the field to take second place. A consistent ride from Craig Bowles (UK) propelled him up to the third step of the podium.
With the women it was a two-horse race and in early running, with Rickie Cotter pushing Jessica Douglas and the pair pulled a lead on the rest of the field. As the sun began to dip below the horizon, Douglas had begun to stretch out a small lead and as the night wore on she extended it little-by-little. By this morning she had extended it to 50 minutes and Cotter couldn’t close in. Megan Dimozantos (New Zealand) completed the elite women’s podium.
WEMBO was born this year here in Italy and then continues in Canberra (Australia) in 2013 and Fort William (Scotland) in 2014.