Parviz first Asian to get podium finish

Parviz first Asian to get podium finish

LANGKAWI - Iran's Mardani Parviz created history when his second-placed finish here made him the first Asian rider to secure a podium finish in a UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championship qualifier.

In a field of world class riders, the previously unknown Parviz put on an impressive performance in the 81km race to finish behind winner Thomas Dietsch of France on Saturday.

Mardani said the secret to his success was his ability to adapt to the hot racing conditions in Langkawi.

"I'm used to riding in hot weather as we train under harsh conditions in Iran. The difference is that the air is humid in Langkawi and dry in Iran," said Mardani.

"I'm extremely happy with the second placing in my maiden appearance in a world championship qualifier and I want more podium finishes to qualify for next year's world meet in South Africa."

Race winner Dietsch thanked his fellow French riders for helping him set the pace in the race.

"I suffered in the hot race conditions but that just makes the win more satisfying. This is my first victory in the world qualifiers series," said Dietsch.

In the women's race, Adelheid Morath took advantage of pre-tournament favourite Mariske Strauss' "stomach problems" to ride to victory.

Despite her discomfort, South African Strauss held on to finish second.

Hungary's Eszfer Dosa, the current women's rankings list leader, crossed the line in third.

Morath, who is a mountain bike cross-country expert, was making her debut in a UCI marathon event in Langkawi.

"It's a wonderful victory as the marathon is not my strongest event. I took the lead from Mariske when she slowed down towards the end of the first loop and widened the gap for the rest of the race," said Morath.

The UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships qualifier offers ranking points to riders to qualify for the World Mountain Bike Championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, next June.

Saturday's race also served as a prologue to the six-stage Langkawi International Mountain Bike Championships 2013, which begins Monday.

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