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On top of the world: The Gunn-Rita Dahle diary 2006

Norwegian cross-country mountain bike racer Gunn-Rita Dahle is probably the best female rider this relatively young branch of the sport has ever seen. World champion in 2002, 2004 and 2005, Olympic champion in 2004 and rarely beaten in the World Cup in 2003, 2004 and 2005, she has a breath-taking palmares.

Dahle says her success is due to an unrelenting focus - she describes herself as a '24-hour athlete' - and the constant support of her husband and coach Kenneth FlesjŚ. Follow her exploits on Cyclingnews as she works to stay at the top of her game in 2006. Or, for more Gunn-Rita, see her personal website: www.gunnrita.com

European Championships, Alpago, Italy, August 4

Tough struggle for medals

[Translation: Crispen T.P. de Lange]

It was a very tough struggle for the medals at the European Championships today. After two days of suffering with diarrhoea, I was lacking a lot of power in my legs and I could feel it right from the start of the race. So on a difficult day, this was a very uplifting result.

I didn't have a totally optimal period of preparation for this major championship, but still I managed to fight my way to a great silver medal. We've been eating very good food here in Italy, as usual, for the last two weeks. But a small aperitif on Thursday evening knocked my digestive system out of balance. Kenneth, Ralf (the Merida mechanic) and I have been suffering with a lot of stomach pains, tiredness and multiple visits to the bathroom these past days and it's doubtlessly drained us of some of our energy.

I quickly recovered after the European Championship Marathon race last weekend and have had great legs and a good feeling the whole week. Our exercise stint on Thursday out on the track, during which we usually bomb around the track at high intensity and then rest, went as planned and proved to me that my top gear was in place as we had hoped. I would never have managed to take the silver medal if I hadn't been in top shape.

It was the Spanish rider Margarita Fullana who took the gold medal today, and she became a deserving European champion, as she rode very well. German Sabine Spitz took the bronze medal, and I expect she's very satisfied with her performance. Norwegian Lene Byberg came in a great 13th place, which is her best position so far in international races. Personally I'm very happy to have taken the silver medal, and I'm satisfied with what I managed out on the track.

Our family and group of supporters were all out by the track and they gave me that little extra something that I needed so badly in order to get up the steepest and longest hills today. We're going to celebrate our silver medal from the European Championships together with our gang, and I'm really looking forward to that..

We're leaving for the drive towards Bern in Switzerland tomorrow. We'll be living there for a week. This coming Sunday we'll be taking part in the Swiss Power Cup in Bern and we consider it our last race in the run-up before the World Championships in Marathon and Cross Country, which are both very exciting challenges for both of us these next weeks.

I wish you all a continued great summer and an exciting period of preparation before the Norwegian championship race, Birken.

Cyclist's greetings from Gunn-Rita and Kenneth
Multivan Merida Biking Team