German ultra-cyclist Fiona Kolbinger has become the first woman to win the Transcontinental Race in her maiden attempt. After more than 4,000 kilometers cycling between the Bulgarian town of Burgas on the Black Sea and Brest on the northwestern tip of France, the 24-year-old student from Heidelberg was victorious in a field of 264, of which 40 were women.
Kolbinger needed 10 days, 2 hours and 48 minutes for the distance in the seventh edition of a race in which participants have no outside support and navigate their own routes outside of mandatory stretches. Kolbinger, who studies cancer research, has been cycling between 15 and 17 hours a day with only some four hours of sleep since leaving on July 27.
"I am so, so surprised to win," she said on the race website. "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." Kolbinger had led the race from the third day. The last ultra-cyclists are expected in Brest by Aug. 15.