Appenninica MTB Stage Race is set for a five-star edition

On July 20, 2019, the Appenninica MTB Stage Race adventure officially started from Bologna with a 12-kilometre time trial up to the summit of San Luca to mark the debut of this new mountain bike stage race on both the Italian and international mtb marathon scene.

Five years later, the Appenninica MTB Stage Race is now a solid organization that’s able to attract athletes from around the world. This unique promotional driver for the Emilia-Romagna Apennines highlights the landscapes and places still unexplored by the general public to paint a picture of the unparalleled outdoor offerings this area has for summertime visitors.

Five years later, on Thursday, July 20 — again in Bologna — the Appenninica MTB Stage Race unveiled plans and details at the ExtraBo headquarters in Piazza del Nettuno for the 2023 edition, September 4-9. The new six-stage format promises fun and entertainment for competitors ready to challenge themselves and their rivals, from Castelnovo ne’ Monti to Lizzano in Belvedere.

Doing the honours at the Appenninica MTB Stage Race presentation was Bologna City Councillor for Sport, Roberta Li Calzi, Emilia-Romagna Head of the Political Secretariat of the Presidency, Giammaria Manghi, and President of the Bologna Metropolitan City Tourist Destination, Mattia Santori. In addition, one of the organizers, Milena Bettocchi, and the president of off-road riding for the Italian Cycling Federation, Massimo Ghirotto, also shared their thoughts


When the organizers of A.S.D. Happy Trail MTB conceived the Appenninica MTB Stage Race in 2019, the ambition was to create a small “Cape Epic”, but with a strong Italian flare: a demanding and challenging stage race that would showcase the beauty of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines while communicating the sense of welcoming and hospitality that these regions are known for worldwide. During the past five years, athletes from five continents — from Australia to Israel via South Africa, Argentina, and the United States — have participated in the stage race.

All of them got a taste of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines by riding technical and challenging trails that are nothing less than those of the Alps, but are far less known to the public. Evidence of the excellent tourist impact generated by the Appenninica MTB Stage Race in recent years comes in the form of stories of athletes who have extended their holidays in the area following the event, or who have embarked on business partnerships with local farms.

The Appenninica MTB Stage Race sold out of its 150 participant entries in five editions, with 28 nations represented in the 2022 edition. Many athletes have been at the start several times, thus demonstrating their love for the routes, landscapes and family atmosphere provided by the Appenninica MTB Stage Race caravan.

Over the years, thanks to the partnership between the organizers and #InEmiliaRomagna, the brand belonging to the Emilia-Romagna Tourism Board, the stage race has been able to showcase the beating heart of the Apennines. This has enabled area leaders to promote sport tourism, both local and on a grander scale, in key locations around the area. This is part of a long-term project aiming to create a true regional brand for the Apennines.


The race route travels from Castelnovo ne’ Monti to Lizzano in Belvedere, through the intriguing Fiumalbo and the historic Appenninica MTB Stage Race venue, Fanano. The 2023 race route covers about 400 kilometres and more than 14,000 meters of total elevation gain throughout the Emilia-Romagna Apennines.

Beginning with the 2023 edition, the six-stage format will make its debut and take the place of the previous seven-stage format. Organizers decided on this change in order to ease logistics for the athletes, while maintaining the same level of difficulty that’s elevated the Appenninica MTB Stage Race to international status throughout the past five years.

Stage 1 – La Matildica – 57 km with 1850 m of elevation gain

Monday, September 4: Castelnovo ne’ Monti – Castelnovo ne’ Monti

Stage 2 – Mountain Queen – 89 km with 3250 m of elevation gain

Tuesday, September 5: Castelnovo ne’ Monti – Fiumalbo

Stage 3 – Tuscany “Incipit” – 79 km with 2550 m of elevation gain

Wednesday, September 6: Fiumalbo – Fiumalbo

Stage 4 – Cimone Challenge – 62 km with 2350 m of elevation gain

Thursday, September 7: Fiumalbo – Fanano

Stage 5 – Appenninica Distilled – 61 km with 2500 m of elevation gain

Friday, September 8: Fanano – Vidiciatico

Stage 6 – Monte Pizzo – 36 km with 1500 m of elevation gain

Saturday, September 9: Vidiciatico – Vidiciatico


Between September 4 and 9, it will be a four-way challenge on the trails of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines. Starting in this 2023 edition will be all the male winners from the first four editions who will be ready to do battle and deliver an encore performance, which is something that hasn’t happened yet.

Among them, the front-runner is Colombian racer, Diego Arias, winner of the last edition, who’s returning to Appenninica to notch a second victory. He’ll have to face Dutch rider, Hans Becking, who’s eager to leave his second mark after success in 2020. Joining them in battle are the winners of the two remaining editions: German racer, Felix Fritzsch, who was king in 2021, and Austrian rider, Lukas Kaufmann, winner of the first edition in 2019.

Behind these four, the Italian racers, Martino Tronconi and Nicola Taffarel, will also play their hand for the win. Frenchman Miguel Martinez, gold medallist at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and winner of the 2022 Cape Epic in the masters’ category along with Mirko Pirazzoli, seems to be the first outsider.

The big favourite among the women is German racer, Naima Diesner, winner in both 2022 and 2021. Diesner is aiming for a hattrick for her third edition. Outsiders who could spoil Diesner’s plans include Australian rider, Imogen Smith, and Dutch racer, Anouk Van den Bielerd.


As in previous editions, Natali Sports Wear will be the technical sponsor of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race leader jerseys. The blue jersey represents the leader in the men’s general classification, while the pink jersey will be worn by the leader in the women’s GC. Three more jerseys will be awarded in the race: Master (green), Grand Master (orange) and Great Grand Master (lilac).



During the past five years, the Appenninica MTB Stage Race family has grown not only with the many athletes who have joined the race, but also thanks to the partners who have supported the event. Sustaining sponsors include carbon fibre wheel manufacturer, 9th Wave CyclingNatali Sports Wear and Barbieri PNK.

Long term partners of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race are Barilla and the bike care brand, Squirt CyclingEnervit, the leading Italian brand for sports nutrition, and Lavor, the leading manufacturer of high-pressure cleaning machines, have recently joined the family.


The Appenninici – Lillo Lenzi, in love with the Apennines

Among the protagonists of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race are many stories of sports and life. Lillo Lenzi, who took part in the 2023 edition at the age of 70, fulfilled his ambition to complete the adventure on the trails of Emilia-Romagna’s Apennines, which have been his home for many years

The Appenninici – From rugby to mountain biking: the unique journey of Sophie Halhead

Among the protagonists of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race many stories of sport and life can be found. Sophie Halhead, who made her second experience in the Emilia-Romagna Apennines in 2023 after taking part in the debut edition, recounts her transition from rugby to the world of mountain biking.

Third time’s the charm: Hans Becking returns to Appenninica for the hat trick

First Elite Man to win two editions of Appenninica MTB Stage Race, the Dutch defending champion of BUFF-Megamo will go for the hat trick from September 2 to 7, 2024. “This race has won my heart,” says Becking.

The Appenninica 2024 route: kicking off in Bologna with 14,000 meters of elevation gain

The organizers have unveiled the route for the MTB stage race, scheduled from September 2 to 7. Confirmed stage venues include Lizzano in Belvedere, Fiumalbo, and Castelnovo ne’ Monti for the grand finale, with Loiano making its debut this year. Participants will face a total of 400 km and 14,000 meters of elevation gain

The Appenninici – An Olympic champion discovers Appenninica

Among the protagonists of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race are many stories of sport and life. Miguel Martinez, Mountain Biking gold medallist at Sydney 2000, participated in the 2023 edition and was impressed by the routes and landscapes of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines and the familiar atmosphere of the race

From Tour the France to the MTB: Appenninica 2024 to kick off in Bologna

The main town of Emilia-Romagna is poised to inaugurate the sixth edition of Appenninica MTB Stage Race on September 2, 2024. Bathed in the afterglow of the Tour de France’s visit in July, the MTB challenge is set to bring more cycling emotions to the city

Appenninica MTB Stage Race Adventure Returns from September 2 to 7, 2024

The renowned MTB stage race in the Emilia-Romagna Apennines confirms its six-day format, announcing its schedule for the 2024 season. Early Bird registration commences on December 1

Becking and Piana conquer Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023

The Dutch rider of Buff-Megamo is the first male athlete to win two editions of Appenninica MTB Stage Race. Becking sealed the overall win by raising arms again in the last stage, followed by Tiago Ferreira and Tim Smeenge, who join him on the podium in second and third position respectively. Debora Piana takes the women’s GC, while Ilina triumphs again in Vidiciatico. “We are really proud of the athletes’ feedback” said the organizers

Happy day for DMT Racing Team in Vidiciatico. Becking and Piana keep the lead

Tiago Ferreira went all-in in the penultimate stage of Appenninica MTB Stage Race from Fanano to Vidiciatico, trying to pursue the leader’s jersey, but Becking kept everything under control. Same plot in the women’s category, with Russian Kristina Ilina taking her second win and Piana in control

Appenninica’s colour is Orange: Smeenge and Becking the stars of stage 4

The Dutch MTB Marathon National champion raises hands in Fanano, while Becking increases his gap in the GC on Tiago Ferreira. Debora Piana keeps dominating and makes it three in a row. Tomorrow, September 8th, the penultimate stage of Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023 runs from Fanano to Lizzano in Belvedere

Becking and Piana strenghten their lead in Fiumalbo

The two leaders got the second win at Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023. The Dutch rider of Buff-Megamo Team sprinted over Tiago Ferreira, while things are getting spicy for the bronze medal, with four riders fighting for the third position. In the women’s field, the Italian of Team Cingolani-Specialized secured the leader jersey with another success in Fiumalbo over Ilina. Tomorrow, September 7th, the peloton heads to Fanano

Ferreira and Piana tame the Mountain Queen Stage

The Portuguese athlete of DMT Racing Team answered back to Becking’s success in the opening stage, while Tronconi and Smeenge remain in contention behind them. Debora Piana took the win and the lead in the women’s category. Tomorrow, September 6th, marks the first-ever border crossing from Emilia-Romagna to Tuscany for the race, with the stage starting and finishing again in Fiumalbo