The Baku 2015 European Games Mountain Bike test event was hailed a resounding success as Switzerland’s Martin Fanger and Ukraine’s Iana Belomoina claimed victory.
Fanger, 26, won the men’s race in a time of 1:37.52 with a dominating performance to finish first ahead of fellow countryman Marc Stutzmann, with Dimitrios Antoniadis of Greece in third.
Belomoina, 21, claimed the women’s title in a time of 1:24.46 with a powerful performance in windy conditions ahead of the Swiss duo of Kathrin Stirnemann and Linda Indergand.
In the men’s race, world number 35 Fanger started as favourite and said afterwards: “The course was nice. Some sections were technical, and there were some nice downhills, but with the wind it was hard at times. It wasn’t easy with the sand and the gravel – some corners were very technical.”
Fanger praised the Baku Prepares event and added: “The organisation was very good. It is important to hold a test event like this and I am very happy with how it went.”
Belomoina, the world number 22, said after her victory: “The course and organisation was very high level but it was very windy which caused some problems for us, but I feel very good and think this test event will be a stimulus for me to get prepared for the Baku 2015 European Games.”
Pierce O’Callaghan, Baku 2015 Director of Sport, said: “The Baku Prepares Mountain Bike test event was an excellent event that was perfect preparation for next year’s inaugural European Games.
"This was the first international mountain bike event ever staged here, and only the second mountain bike event, so it has been a huge success. We will be reviewing and improving the course before next year’s Games to make sure it pushes athletes to their limits.
“Congratulations to the athletes who secured a top three finish and we look forward to hopefully welcoming them back here again next year.”
Mr Thierry Marechal, European Cycling Union Mountain Bike technical delegate, said: “The Baku Prepares test event was a superb competition in a new and challenging location for the athletes.
“Both races were quality entertainment, and we were extremely pleased with the thorough and professional organisation of the event.”
The Baku 2015 European Games will offer ranking points in all three Cycling disciplines for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.