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BREST, France (AFP) — German cancer researcher Fiona Kolbinger won the mixed annual 4,000km (2,485 miles) cycling Transcontinental Race on Monday, becoming the first woman to do so.
Kolbinger, 24, arrived in Brest, northwest France, after riding for 10 days, 2 hrs and 48 minutes to win the seventh edition of the race, which began in Bulgaria on July 27.
“I am so happy to win. I was targeting the women’s podium, I didn’t think I could win the whole race,” said Kolbinger who was taking part in her first self-supported ultra cycling event.
“I could have attacked more, and slept less,” she added.
Of the seven editions of the race, the first two began in London and traced an eastward route, finishing in Instanbul, Turkey. From 2015-2018 the race began in Geraardsbergen, Belgium, and twice finished in Turkey and twice in Greece. The 2019 edition marked the first east-to-west edition of the event.
Kolbinger passed through at least seven countries and four checkpoints, one of which was atop the Col du Galibier at 2,645m in the French Alps.
The ultra-distance race race requires riders to research and navigate the course themselves. The race requires athletes to be self-sufficient, and they can not rely on friends or family for food or equipment during the event. Drafting off of other competitors is also forbidden along the route.
Riders must also carry and consume what they can find and choose when and where to rest. The more than 260 remaining competitors, racing as solo male and females as well as in pairs are expected to cross the finish line over the coming hours and days.
The race was founded in 2013 by ultra-cycling veteran Mike Hall. Hall was killed in 2017 when he was struck by a car while competing in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race.