Fiona Kolbinger, a German cancer researcher became the first woman to win the seventh edition of the Transcontinental cycling race. It is one of the world’s toughest cycling races, covering 2,485 miles (4000km) from Burgas in Bulgaria to Brest in France. Kolbinger was one of the 265 riders participating in the race, of which 40 were women. She achieved a remarkable victory in the race which was also her first ultra-distance event.

Kolbinger, a medical student and new athlete

Kolbinger, 24 years old, is originally from Dresden, Germany. She is presently a medical student at the paediatric oncology at the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg.

Kolbinger took 10days, two hours and 48 minutes to complete the challenge, which was seven hours before her nearest rival, Ben Davis.

Kolbinger took 10days, two hours and 48 minutes to complete the challenge, which was seven hours before her nearest rival, Ben Davis. However, her victory is not considered record-breaking. This is because James Hayden, a Briton, had finished last year’s race in eight days, 23hours and 59 minutes only. However, she created a new record by becoming the first woman to win one of the toughest cycling races. Her record and achievement are too huge to be compared and overlooked.

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The race started on 28 July and ended with Kolbinger’s win on Tuesday, August 6. Extremely elated and surprised by the victory, Kolbinger said at the finish line “When I was coming into the race, I thought that maybe I could go for the women’s podium, but I never thought I could win the whole race … I think I could have gone harder. I could have slept less.”

Transcontinental race is one of the world’s toughest cycling race

The Transcontinental cycling race was started in 2013 by the British long-distance cyclist Mike Hall. However, he was killed during the race in Australia in 2017. Though the starting and the ending points of the race are fixed, the riders are free to choose their own routes. But, they should cross four main control points of the race.

Kolbinger’s challenges included climbing 2,474-metre Timmelsjochpass in South Tyrol, and traversing the 2,645-metre Col du Galibier, paved passes in the French Alps.

Besides, new challenges are added at every checkpoint in the race. These include crossing gravel paths, climbing high-altitude mountains and steep gradients. Kolbinger’s challenges included climbing 2,474-metre Timmelsjochpass in South Tyrol, and traversing the 2,645-metre Col du Galibier, paved passes in the French Alps. Furthermore, the riders can only use the stuff they choose to carry with them or get at the stores en-route. They are not allowed to seek or receive any help from friends or strangers.

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The organisers of the seventh edition of the race commented, “To complete the course, they’ve cycled through temperatures of up to 37C [98.6F] and as low as just four degrees above freezing. They’ve suffered under the scorching sun, freezing rain, and rode through thunder and lightning.”

Kolbinger’s victory in such a tough and harsh race, and with only 40 women participants emerges as a new beginning. It will encourage more women to participate in the race and reach the finish line with record-breaking wins.

Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

Image Source: France 24

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