25 OCTOBER 2020
Colombian Leonardo Páez defended his title at the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championship race in Sakarya, Turkey, winning the elite men’s race for the second year in a row to earn the gold medal.
Páez, a 38-year-old who rides for the Team Giant-Liv Polimedical team that’s based in Italy, rode his XtC Advanced SL 29 hardtail to the victory on a fast, wide-open 110km course. His repeat win made him the first man to score consecutive marathon world championships since Belgian rider Roel Paulissen did it in 2008 and 2009.
“I still can’t find the words to say how happy I am,” said Páez, who came into the race a favorite with a total of five marathon world championship medals to his name including his win last year in Switzerland. “Thanks to my teammates, my family, my team, all the sponsors and fans.”
The high speeds in the men’s race produced a large lead group in the first half of the race, which was slowly whittled down to a small group of contenders. The men raced three laps, and after the first lap the lead group was at 18. Entering the final lap, it was down to five: Páez, Tiago Ferreira of Portugal, Martin Stosek and Kristian Hynek of the Czech Republic, and Italian Juri Ragnoli.
Páez was the first to make a decisive attack from that group, and only Ferreira and Stosek could follow. The Colombian kept the pressure on and eventually dropped the other two, going on to post a winning time of 4:19:50, 2:20 ahead of Ferreira who took silver. Stosek hung on to take the bronze medal, another 15 seconds back.