For the first time ever, a woman has won the Transcontinental Race, beating 200 men to take the title in one of cycling’s most gruelling events.
- Fiona Kolbinger completed the Transcontinental Race in 10 days, two hours and 48 minutes, 10 hours ahead of her nearest male competitor
- She averaged just four hours of sleep per day, resting on the side of the road in a sleeping bag
- The race stretches for more than 4,000km across Europe
Germany’s Fiona Kolbinger, a 24-year-old cancer researcher, was one of just 40 women in the 265-rider race from Burgas in Bulgaria to Brest in France’s north-west region.
The race stretches for more than 4,000 kilometres across Europe, with Kolbinger completing the race in a time of 10 days, two hours and 48 minutes.
The runner-up, Britain’s Ben Davies, finished more than 10 hours behind Kolbinger.
Despite this, Kolbinger said she could have “gone harder”.
“I could have slept less,” she said.
“I am so, so surprised to win. 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.”
German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reported Kolbinger, who led the race from day three onwards, was on the bike between 15 and 17 hours a day from the start of the race on July 27, averaging just four hours of sleep each night.
She would often sleep on the side of the road in a sleeping bag.
The Transcontinental Race, which began in 2013, weaves through Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Croatia, France, Italy, Kosovo, Serbia, Slovenia and Switzerland, and has a number of strict rules.
Racers can navigate their own route, but have to pass through four control points, which take them across varied terrain.
Among the passes is the zigzag road of the Timmelsjoch pass at an altitude of 2,474m on the Italian-Austrian border.
Cyclists cannot ask anybody the way or receive technical support from anyone else, and have to find their own food and accommodation.