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Germany's Spitz. France's Absalon win mountain bike races

Beijing, China (Sports Network) - Sabine Spitz of Germany won the gold medal on Saturday in the Olympic women's mountain bike race, while Frenchman Julien Absalon captured the men's event for a second straight time.

Spitz finished the 4.45-kilometer course in 1 hour, 45 minutes, 11 seconds, which was 41 seconds ahead of Poland's Maja Wloszczowska. Irina Kalentyeva of Russia won the bronze medal.

The gold medal effort came four years after Spitz won the bronze.

"It's a dream to win the gold medal," said Spitz. "I was very happy, because from the beginning I could make the race at the front and set the speed. I thought the Polish rider would have been stronger. After the first downhill, I saw I could pass her and take the lead."

Mary McConneloug and Georgia Gould of the U.S. finished seventh and eighth, respectively.

Defending gold medalist Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa of Norway fell out of the race after three laps due to problems with her bike.

In the men's race, Absalon finished the course in a time of 1:55:59, which was 67 seconds ahead of fellow Frenchman Jean-Christophe Peraud. Nino Schaurter of Switzerland got the bronze medal, with fellow Swiss Christoph Sauser coming in fourth.

"When you ride your bike at the Olympic Games you can't play safe," said Absalon. "It's not a question of riding a careful race. You don't think, you just go, because if you don't, if you lose, it's four years of regrets."

Absalon has dominated the men's circuit since his gold medal performance four years ago, winning four straight world titles from 2004-07. That includes 13 World Cup victories.

Adam Craig and Todd Wells of the U.S. came in 29th and 43rd, respectively.

08/23 05:48:28 ET


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