Jenny Rissveds powers to Olympic gold on mountain bike

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Jenny Rissveds found another gear going up the first long hill of the last lap of the women's Olympic mountain bike race.

By the time she started her descent, the Swedish cyclist had finally pulled away from Maja Wloszczowska of Poland. Rissveds was never seriously challenged again on way to winning to the gold medal Saturday.

She finished the six-plus lap race in 1 hour, 30 minutes, 15 seconds, beating Wloszczowska by 37 seconds. For Wloszczowska, it was second career Olympic silver in the event, following Beijing in 2008.

''I managed to stay on her wheel,'' a tired Wloszczowska said in between gulps on a bottle of soda. ''But then on the beginning of the sixth lap, she attacked really strongly and I was absolutely empty and couldn't follow.''

Catharine Pendrel held off Canadian teammate Emily Batty for the bronze in Rio de Janeiro.

Rissveds already had an impressive few months, winning a World Cup race and the under-23 world championship in back-to-back weeks in July.

Crossing the finish line with a smile, Rissveds circled around and got a hug from a fan near a railing.

''Today I was the strongest and I got the gold medal. Just unbelievable,'' Rissveds said.

She had bumps and bruises along the way, though, long before having to maneuver the man-made mountain bike course in Rio de Janeiro.

Just a few weeks ago, Rissveds crashed in practice before a race in London. Earlier in the week in Rio, she crashed again in practice, needing a few stitches to close up wounds in her knee and elbow.

''It didn't worry me too much actually because I enjoyed the course so much,'' Rissveds said.

Much of the race was held in 90-degree temperatures under overcast skies. Riders gave mainly good reviews for the course before the race, though a few worried about the heat since there were relatively few trees providing shade.

It didn't seem to bother Rissveds on the last lap.

Until then, Rissveds and Wloszczowska dueled for much of the second half of the race, breaking away from the pack. Jolanda Neff of Sweden, ranked third in the world, stuck close to the pair early before falling back. She finished in sixth.

Wloszczowska didn't have a chance to race in London after getting hurt before the games there. Since Beijing, the Polish cyclist also lost her coach, who died in an accident.

She wore a rubber bracelet around her wrist for inspiration with one of her late coach's favorite phrases, ''Just do your job.''

''He was with me the whole race,'' Wloszczowska said.

Pendrel and Batty teamed up during the middle of the race to pull closer to the lead pack before Pendrel beat her teammate in a sprint to the finish for bronze.

''If I had crashed myself out of bronze, I would have been extremely happy for her, too,'' Pendrel said.

Reigning world champion Annika Langvad was 11th and American Lea Davison had a strong finish and came in seventh, three minutes behind Rissveds.

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AP Summer Games: http://summergames.ap.org/

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Follow Genaro Armas at: https://twitter.com/GArmasAP

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