The Colombian racer from Hubbers-Polimedical and the German racer of the Buff-Megamo Team established their presence in the 52-kilometer opening stage with 1800 meters of elevation gain, with start and finish in Castelnovo ne’ Monti, by distancing the duo from the DMT Racing Team in the men’s race, and Debora Lana in the women’s.

They started out as race favorites, and they didn’t disappoint. Diego Arias and Naima Diesner are the winners in the opening stage of Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2022 that took place on SundaySeptember 4, with start and finish from Piazza Gramsci in Castelnovo ne’ Monti (Reggio Emilia, Italy). The Colombian racer from the Hubbers-Polimedical team and the German racer of the Buff-Megamo Team took the race reins from the very first kilometers by forging a pace that their rivals were compelled to follow.

The 52 kilometers and 1800 meters of elevation gain of “La Matildica” immediately allowed the athletes to sample the challenges of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race. After sizing up the race in the opening kilometers, Diego Arias took over the race at kilometer 10 and, meter after meter, increased his lead. Behind him, the DMT Racing team duo of Miguel Munoz Moreno and Francisco Filipe tried to mount a chase.

At the race’s midpoint at Castello di Carpineti, the lead that the Colombian racer from Hubbers-Polimedical had opened up stood at four minutes. Arias drove up the pace to progressively widen the gap to more than seven and a half minutes at kilometer 39. By the finish in Piazza Gramsci, the Colombian had completed the stage in 2:26:16, with a lead of 4:01 over Francisco Filipe and Miguel Munoz Moreno. The DMT duo took advantage of a mistake by Arias in the last ten kilometers to reduce the gap at the finish.

Fourth place went to 2021 defending champion, Felix Fritzsch, who paid a 9:13 time debt to the stage king, while Gosse van der Meer (Euro Cycling) finished fifth at 11:29.

“It was a beautiful but tough day,” Diego Arias said at the finish. “The course was treacherous because of the continuous ups and downs, and it was not easy to find a race rhythm. Hard climbs and beautiful descents were made slippery by yesterday’s rain. I felt good and tried to make a move from the first kilometers by driving the pace. Despite a mistake in the final kilometers, I managed to win the stage with a good lead. I will have to watch out for the duo from the DMT Racing Team, but I will do my best to win this wonderful race.”

NAIMA DIESNER PICKS UP WHERE SHE LEFT OFF

The year has changed but not the result for Naima Diesner, who after her success in Piazza Peretti last year has repeated her win in Piazza Gramsci. The German racer from the Buff-Megamo Team laid down the law from the very first kilometers to win with a time of 3:29:12.

By the race’s midpoint, Naima Diesner’s lead over Debora Lana was already more than five minutes, and around eight minutes ahead of Camilla Marinelli. This allowed the German to take command of the second part of the stage, and finish 4:21 ahead of Debora Lana (Bici Scoot). Completing the podium was the other Italian, Camilla Marinelli (ASD Bike and Fun Team), who paid a time debt of 19:53 to the leader at the finish line in Piazza Gramsci. A little further back was Ukraine’s Elena Novikova at 22:00, while Rozanne Slik (Wv Nordholand) arrived as expected in fifth, more than a half an hour down from Diesner.

“I am delighted to be here again,” commented a beaming Naima Diesner after the race. “It’s only the first stage, but it was already a very tricky stage because of the very steep climbs and the mud after yesterday’s rain. It immediately reminded me how beautiful the Apennines are. I already have a good advantage and I hope to manage it during the next stages, which will certainly be more difficult.”

IT’S CASTELNOVO NE’ MONTI’S TURN AGAIN

After the opening stage, it will still be a loop around Castelnovo ne’ Monti that will test the athletes in the second stage. With its 62 kilometers and 2,350 meters of elevation gain“The Rock” offers a very fast first part on uphill paths and forest roads until kilometer 25. After passing by Lago Calamone, a climb will take the athletes to the crest of Monte Pastorale, which will lead into a 5-km descent with 700 meters of elevation loss. The finale is a series of ups and downs in the shadow of the Pietra di Bismantova.