A German medical student has made history after becoming the first woman to win cycling’s Transcontinental Race.

Fiona Kolbinger, a cancer researcher from Dresden, beat 264 other cyclists in the 2,485-mile (4,000km) race across Europe.

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Setting out from Burgas in Bulgaria, the 24-year-old took 10 days, two hours and 48 minutes to reach the finishing line in Brest, France.

Ms Kolbinger said she “was surprised to win” the race, having originally aimed to just finish on the women’s podium.

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“I think I could’ve gone harder. I could have slept less,” she added.

Ms Kolbinger, who was one of 40 women participating in this round of the competition, is said to have slept on the side of the road and kept up a routine of cycling up to 19 hours per day.

Race organisers said that while it was a “landmark moment” for the competition, it was even more remarkable that it was her first bike race.

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“She has raced [the competition] on her own time and at her own pace – never chasing, simply outlasting every other competitor,” the organisers said in a tweet.

“For the first nine days of racing, Fiona never looked anywhere close to her limit.”

The ultra-endurance race, founded by the late British cyclist Mike Hall, sees participants travel through seven or more countries on a self-navigated route, with several stops at mandatory checkpoints in Bulgaria, Serbia, Italy and France.

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Riders are only allowed to take along what they can carry, and consume what they can find from various services en route.

Despite saying she could have pushed herself further, Ms Kolbinger admitted that near the end of the competition she started to struggle.

“Last night was too long, took dark and too grim,” she said.

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