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France takes Olympic gold in women's mountain biking

Julie Bresset stormed to victory in the women’s mountain bike cross-country event on Saturday, winning France its 10th gold medal at the London Games. Germany's Sabine Spitz and American Georgia Gould took silver and bronze, respectively.

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REUTERS - Julie Bresset led from the start to earn France their first cycling gold medal at the London Olympics with an impressive solo victory in the women's mountain bike event on Saturday.

The 2011 World Cup winner, 23, smoothly pulled away and never looked back to beat German Sabine Spitz, who came into the race as the defending champion, by 62 seconds.

American Georgia Gould took bronze, 68 seconds off the pace.

Bresset grabbed a French flag just before the line, waved it in celebration before lifting her bike over her head in delight, a broad smile on her face.

France's first cycling title in London comes after three silver medals in the track competitions and dismal performances in the BMX.

Bresset, who had said she would need to take a flying start, teamed up with Britain's Annie Last to drag the field into the opening nasty climb in rural surroundings on a bright day in Essex, north east of London.

She quickly took control of the race, setting a hard pace in the lung-busting climb to Snake Hill before building a small gap over the pack along with Spitz and Canadian world number one Catharine Pendrel.

After the second of six 4.7-kilometre laps on a course overlooking the Thames estuary, the trio looked set to battle it out for the medals.

Pendrel, however, lost ground as Gould joined Bresset and Spitz at the front.

The Frenchwoman was still ahead after three laps and Spitz fell off her bike before recovering as she chased the leader in the tricky Rock Garden descent.

Bresset sat on a 33-second cushion with two laps remaining and it was then clear the only fight left was the one for silver, with Spitz retaining her small advantage over Gould on the line.

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