German Felix Fritzsch won the opening of Appeninica MTB Stage Race, ahead of big names such as Ilias Periklis and Bart Classens. Virginia Cancellieri was the first Italian to win an Appenninica stage in the “solo” category
Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2021 delivered a surprising opening on Sunday, September 12th, in the individual time trial in Porretta Terme (40 km and 1600 metres of elevation gain). The best time was set by German Felix Fritzsch, the only athlete to beat the 2-hour limit with a 1:58:59 time. The rider of the RSG 52 Stolberg team surprised all the most valued opponents, confirming a special feeling with the Emilia-Romagna Apennines after the victory at the Rally di Romagna in 2018, and having finished last May’s edition in fourth place.
Two riders among the favourites, Ilias Periklis (DMT Racing Team) and Bart Classens (MTB Club Licht Verzet), completed the podium with 3:05 and 3:59 delays. respectively. After last year’s crash in the second stage, which ended his experience at Appenninica, Fritzsch came back aiming at finishing the race. Fate gave him an immediate thrill: he’s the first leader of the 2021 edition.
“I’m definitely surprised, I didn’t realise I went this fast but I’m excited for the win – admitted the German rider at the finish line -. I hope I can defend the lead, but I’ll be thinking day by day. Today’s course was very demanding, with a tough climb and several singletrack sections on the descent. Definitely a good start, let’s see what happens in the next days“.
CANCELLIERI MARKS A FIRST TIME AT APPENNINICA
In the women’s category, the first day marked a first time. In fact, Virginia Cancellieri became the first Italian woman ever to win a stage at Appenninica MTB in the solo formula. The Orbea Factory Team rider came to the Apennine to enjoy the race and have fun in the wonderful landscapes of the area, but she started strong and she’s going play her cards until the end.
Cancellieri covered the 40-km distance of the TT opening stage in 2:31:08, with a 1:05 advantage over German Naima Diesner (Tuspo Weemde) and 12:33 over Austrian Evelyn Sulzer. This trio likely includes the final winner, also given the last-minute forfait of ultracyclist Elena Novikova, due to physical issues.
“I really liked the course, it reminded me of my home paths in Liguria – commented the Italian after the finish line – I came here to have fun after a very busy month, to set my mind off and to just enjoy the race. I will keep riding this way even aftwer today’s success, but I can’t hide I’m very proud of the result and of being able to wear the leader jersey tomorrow”.
FROM PORRETTA TO LIZZANO IN BELVEDERE: THE RACE SPICES UP
After the “Porretta Soul” starter, Appenninica MTB Stage Race is getting to its main courses. Starting from tomorrow Monday, September 13th, the altitude will be increasing, taking the race to wonderful landscapes on the Apennines’ crests. Main feature of the second stage, starting from 9.00 am CET from Porretta and running for 55 km (2540 m elevation gain) up to Lizzano in Belvedere – birthplace of famous journalist and writer Enzo Biagi -, is the Corno alle Scale mountain, after which the stage is named (Il Corno).
The peak of 1830 m a.s.l. will be reached after an endless 33 km climb, the longest of this 2021 edition. From the breath-taking panorama of the Crinale Massimo, the riders will get to Lago Scaffaiolo and then quickly descend to the finish line in Lizzano. After this stage it will be possible to have a better picture of the favorites in the race: the time to hide is already over.