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

After a very successful 2023 edition, the Appenninica MTB Stage Race is set to return. In its first five editions, this stage race in the Emilia-Romagna Apennines has established itself as the premier Italian event in multi-day mountain bike racing and has become one of the most anticipated events at the European level. The next adventure is scheduled for September 2-7, 2024.

Similar to last year, the sixth edition of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race will unfold over six stages, a format that was well-received for its logistical efficiency and for enhancing the spectacle of one of the most challenging competitions in the mountain bike stage racing scene.

The essential elements will all be back, with the course as the central feature: it’s as demanding as true mountain biking should be, with the Apennines of Emilia-Romagna always in the starring role. We aim to grow step by step, and for 2024 we are already considering some innovative ideas that will make the experience and beauty of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines even more captivating,” said Milena Bettocchi and Beppe Salerno, co-organizers of the race.

REGISTRATION COMMENCES ON DECEMBER 1

The announcement of the 2024 dates coincides with the opening of registration. The “Early Bird” phase is set to begin on Friday, December 1, offering a maximum of 50 registrations at a discounted rate of 1,350€ until December 31 or until all spots are taken.

Appenninica MTB Stage Race is a full-service event, with the entry fee covering not just the race bib but also accommodation, meals and refreshments, medical care, bike wash, transfers between stages, and other services (full details at appenninica-mtb.com).

To maintain the quality of the experience, registration is capped at 150 participants, preventing trail overcrowding and ensuring high standards of race support for everyone. The 2024 edition will also continue the individual race format, adding to the intensity and excitement of the challenge.

104 Km and 3600 mt. D+: Appenninica’s Queen Stage is the ultimate test of truth

In the fourth edition of Appenninica (4-10 September 2022), the 104 Km and 3600 metres of elevation gain of the High Mountain Queen Stage’ from Castelnovo ne’ Monti to Fanano might be the turning point of the race on day 3, Tuesday, September 6th

With its 440 km and 16,000 metres of elevation gain spread over seven days (September 4th-10th, 2022), up and down the Emilia-Romagna Apennines, Appenninica MTB Stage Race poses plenty of challenges on the way of its participants. However, those who have already taken part in the spectacular Italian MTB stage race and those who dream of doing it soon know that there is always a day to be circled in red: the High Mountain Queen Stage.

The stage race scheduled in the Emilia-Romagna Apennines will reverse course this year, starting from Castelnovo ne’ Monti and ending in Lizzano in Belvedere, but the format will remain unchanged, with its unique mix of tough and exciting challenges, trails in the wilderness, and incomparable scenery. This year, the most challenging test will come on the third day, Tuesday, September 6th, 2022, when the Queen Stage of the 2022 edition is scheduled, starting from Castelnovo ne’ Monti (Reggio Emilia) and arriving in Fanano (Modena).

Compared to the past, the athletes will be fresher to tackle the 104 km and 3600 metres of elevation gain, but there will certainly be no shortage of thrills, starting with the spectacular views of a route almost entirely above 1,500 metres in altitude. A large part of the route follows the Alta via dei Parchi along ancient military mule tracks and trade routes such as the ancient via Vandelli, which connected Modena to Massa Carrara from the 18th century onwards.

At the start, there will be time for a final salute to the Bismantova Rock before crossing the Secchia river and beginning the first long ascent of the day (20 km and 1000 metres of elevation gain). A forest road will lead to the Cisa Pass and the “Alta Tensione” trail, eventually reaching the Monte Cusna area.

From Febbio, a new climb on forest roads will take the bikers to the summit of the Monte Giovarello (1760 m a.s.l.), from where, with favourable weather conditions, the entire Po Valley and beyond to the Tuscan coast can be seen. After reaching the Passo Radici, the route will go down in altitude, alternating forest roads and short single tracks up to the village of Pievepelago. Here the athletes will be able to catch their breath on the 10 km of asphalt road that will lead to Fiumalbo, where the climbing will start again.

A 10 km forest road and 1000 metres of altitude difference will take the athletes to Pian Cavallaro (1850 m a.s.l.) at the foot of Monte Cimone. There will only be 15 km left to the finish in Fanano, to be raced on pleasant forestry descents and short single-track sections. The first competitors will reach Piazza Corsini after 5 hours and 30 minutes: on such a day there’s nowhere to hide, and the general classification could be significantly reshaped.

“It is a Queen Stage in pure Appenninica style. The bikers will face ‘wild’ trails and unspoilt landscapes, on a selective – but also flowy – route that will cross some of the best-known areas of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines, such as Monte Cusna and Monte Cimone”, explained Beppe Salerno and Milena Bettocchi, the co-organizers of Appenninica MTB Stage Race.

Bike and tech: 5 insider tips for taking up Appenninica

Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2022 partner for mechanical assistance, Sport Bike Alicante points out five aspects not to be overlooked before tackling the demanding MTB stage race on the Emilia-Romagna Apennines.

 

Even if you have never taken part in an MTB stage race, and maybe you are preparing for your first time at Appenninica MTB Stage Race, you know already that preparation for such an event starts from afar. And no, we’re not just talking about physical conditioning.

If you think a challenge like the Appenninica is stressful for your body (and you might be right), have you ever wondered how stressful it can be for your bike? Spoiler: indeed, no less…

From 4 to 10 September 2022, on the trails of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines, the mechanical assistance will be provided by Sport Bike Alicante, a new partner of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race. Whatever the bike’s annoyance or technical problem, the mechanics’ team will be ready to tackle and solve it.

Before reaching Castelnovo ne’ Monti for the start, it is a good idea to go through these five technical and mechanical tips to be ready to tackle the week-long Appenninica MTB Stage Race:

  1. Brake pads must be 100% new. Change them before setting off and ensure the brake fluid level and pressure are correct.
  2.  Tyres must be new. Choose the best size according to your preference and driving style, but make sure that they are brand new and not already worn at the start.
  3. Keep in mind that you are riding on the Apennines, and the elevation profile of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race is very demanding. Obvious? Maybe so, but it’s good to recall this when making your technical choices….
  4. Always keep an essential tool kit at hand. Inside it: chain stripper, multi-tool, spare inner tube, spare dropout or derailleur, Co2 pump with adapter, thermal blanket, lube oil or wax, cable ties and small pliers. A week up and down the Apennines is long and full of unforeseen events: you better be prepared.
  5. If your bike is equipped with an electric derailleur, take along an auxiliary battery for the derailleur and a battery for the control unit. Weather variations are always possible; changes in cold and heat can drain batteries faster and create trouble.

The Appenninici: Mark, Pippo and a lifetime in mountain bike

“Number 138, Mark Anolik, crosses the finish line in Fanano”. After hearing this sentence from the Appenninica MTB Stage Race speaker, Pierpaolo “Pippo” Marani’s eyes sparkled. Based in Fanano (Modena), the famous trail builder remembers that name well from the 1991 Mountain Bike World Championships in Il Ciocco, when Marani finished 35th in the Downhill Elite event, while his friend and rival from the USA finished just behind him, in 36th place.

The fate wanted that the two would meet again in a village in the Modena Apennines, exactly 30 years later, in 2021. In this case, destiny has a name: Appenninica MTB Stage Race.

I knew that Pippo was involved with Appenninica and that we could have an opportunity to meet again after many years. I am pleased it happened, also because it helped me to get back in touch with Giovanna Bonazzi, whom I have known for many years and worked with when she raced for the team I managed in 1997, Sintesi – Verlicchi”, said Mark Anolik.

The meeting between Mark Anolik and Pippo Marani was an opportunity to relive the atmosphere of those pioneering mountain biking days in the early 90s, of which both were protagonists. The adventurous spirit of the 90s is very similar to Appenninica’s spirit itself, the one that charmed so many participants on the Emilia-Romagna Apennines.

“The format of the race and the route caught my eye, because I lived in Prato when I competed for Diamond Back/Moustique, and I knew the Apennines. I recommend Appenninica to anyone who loves real, hard core mountain biking. There are all the ingredients, from one of the most beautiful areas to great food, friendly people and excellent organisation. A perfect mix that makes Appenninica one of the best events I have participated in almost 40 years of mountain biking”, Mark Anolik told.

And after a 40-year career, Mark Anolik still feels like riding. The American will also be at the start of the 2022 edition (4-10 September), because his strive for competition and desire to improve has remained the same.

“The experience of many years of racing helps you face the tough days, but I like the challenge of competing and I feel it makes me a better athlete” – ended Mark Anolik.

Why and how did we come up with Appenninica?

We’ve told the story many times but it’s time to explain the genesis of Appenninica MTB Stage Race here.

Over the past 15 years we’ve raced in 4 continents and year after year, race after race we fell in love with mountain bike stage racing. Not the competition in itself, but the experience and the challenge. The feeling of achieving the “Finisher” title changes the way you cope with problems and setbacks in life and if you have been there, you know what we mean. 

Taking part in those races from South Africa, to Canada, to Mongolia, and Europe of course, were perfect excuses to travel with our friends and families and pushed us to stay fit. 

Briefing inaugural edition Appenninica

A briefing for one of the stages of the inaugural edition of Appenninica MTB

Then something clicked: “Our Apennines could be – we thought – a very good place for such a race and not very many riders know its trails”. There are several races on the Alps and on the Pyrenees but the Apennines – an important mountain range of its own – did not host any true MTB stage race. We knew the incredible network of trails was there and that the “Italian divide” offered some unique ridgeline trails like we’ve not found anywhere in the World. 

We put our skills to work (we know events but that was a different animal), we rallied the team – Happy Trail MTB, our cycling club, provided the core team but we’ve gotten lots of great external help – and we started pitching the idea here and there. I can say that we were motivated and optimistic but we had to overcome, and we still do, challenges after challenges coming at us from every angle: weather, permits, money to name a few. We are still writing the story of Appenninica but let me just say that there’s been an equal mix of encouragement and skepticism. 

We’ll leave it at this: all of the work, the sleepless nights, and worries are worth it. 

If you want, it’s a classic story of having a dream and making it come true with drive and lots of patience. 

In a nutshell, Appenninica was started to share this part of Italy with the – great – mountain bike stage racing community and maybe to prove that the Apennines of Emilia Romagna could have hosted a top-level stage race. 

What’s in the name? Appenninica is an adjective loosely meaning coming from or made in the Apennines, or “made in Appennino” if you wish. 

Appenninica announces 2021 dates: September 12th to 18th

After the excellent outcome of this year, the event will remain in September. Registrations will open on November 15th

Photo by Marius Holler / The Outdoor Lab

Less than a month removed from a beautiful 2020 edition, the organizers of Appenninica MTB Stage Race are already working for 2021, and there is already the first significant news.

After pushing the 2020 edition from Summer to Fall because of the epidemiological emergency, the excellent feedback received from athletes and insiders convinced the organizers to confirm September as the month of the challenging stage race in the Emilian Apennines.

Appenninica’s third edition will take place from Sunday 12th to Saturday, September 18th, 2021, over seven days of competition. The September fixture should ensure the ideal climate for the competition, away from the peaks of summer heat and the early autumn cold.

Mid-September is also perfect for seizing the views of the Apennines and enjoying the real MTB on its unique ridges: “After this year’s success, despite all the hurdles, – explains Beppe Salerno, co-organizer of the race together with Milena Bettocchi, – we decided to confirm our calendar slot in September, two weeks earlier than this year. We expect to find slightly warmer temperatures and an even more eager welcoming since our venues’ summer season will still be open. Also, the international calendar offers us an interesting opportunity, as we aim to bring a group of top riders on the Apennines next year too”.

HOW TO REGISTER

As in 2020, the organizing committee chose to allow only individual participation without the pairs format, following an increasing trend worldwide.

It will be possible to register for 2021 Appenninica from November 15th, when the “Early Bird” phase will open: until January 31st, a maximum of 55 athletes can register for a reduced price.

With Appenninica’s trails riding through regional and national parks, in order not to overcrowd the course and ensure the utter level of enjoyment, the organizers opted to set a maximum number of 150 registered athletes.

The Bismantova Rock enhances Tiago Ferreira

The Portuguese rider of the DMT Racing Team made the difference in the final descent, taking his second Appenninica stage victory in Castelnovo ne’ Monti. Lorenzo Samparisi was runner-up, followed by GC leader Hans Becking. Esther Süss makes five out of five among women

Ph. The Outdoor Lab. Ferreira heading towards the Bismantova Rock

DMT Racing Team continues to rule at Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race. On Thursday, October 1st, in Castelnovo ne’ Monti, with the stunning Bismantova Rock in the background, the athletes of team manager Andrea Marconi won the fourth stage in five days at the Italian stage race. This time, however, they didn’t finish together. Tiago Ferreira managed to make the difference in the final descent that brought the riders to the base of the Rock, distancing everyone, even his teammate and GC leader Hans Becking. Second place for Lorenzo Samparisi (KTM Alchemist Dama) at 2’57”, narrowly guarded by the Dutchman, third at 3’06”.

After the Queen Stage efforts, the riders opted for a steadier approach to the stage, 50-km-long with 1800 meters of elevation gain. That resulted in regular pace in the early part, on fast forest roads and some uphill trails towards Montemiscoso and the Lake Calamone. Just before approaching the stretch around the Bismantova Rock, Ferreira decided to force the pace and try an all-in for the stage victory. Samparisi’s attempts to keep up with him were fruitless, so the Portuguese came in Piazza Peretti in Castelnovo ne’ Monti with his arms raised, celebrating his second victory in this Appenninica’s edition.

“The first part of the stage was very calm since we had no reason to push hard – Ferreira explained. – In the second, however, there were many fast up and down, so I tried to go for the stage. And I made it!”. On the other hand, Becking didn’t take any risk: “When Tiago attacked, I let Samparisi try to chase him. I didn’t want to push too hard. Even today, we were surrounded by beautiful landscapes, but after five days of competition on the Emilian Apennines, I understand this must be usual around here”.

Italian Samparisi, once again the most tenacious opponent of the DMT Racing Team’s riders, had to settle for the place of honor: “Unfortunately I could not follow Tiago, but I will try again in the next two stages that seem to suit my characteristics. After Fanano’s victory, I would like to repeat”.

In the overall standings, Ferreira shortened the distance to his teammate Becking and is now 4’38” behind, while Samparisi is getting closer to the final third place, having gained more time on Milton Ramos (Rockrider Decathlon).

Ph. The Outdoor Lab. Ferreira celebrating in Castelnovo ne’ Monti

ESTHER SÜSS HIGH-FIVE!

Esther Süss got the fifth victory in as many stages among women, not leaving even a shred of hope to her opponents. At this point, the en-plein of successes in this Appenninica’s edition is no longer utopia for the former World Champion. At 17’29” from the winner, Gaia Ravaioli (KTM Alchemist Data) was on the second step of the podium for the fifth time as well.

“It was a fun stage, with many ‘up and downs’, and beautiful landscapes – the Swiss explained -. I like to go uphill rather than downhill, but I needed a day like today, after yesterday’s efforts. Winning all the stages? I already did it at the Transalp, the 4 Islands, and the Andalucia Bike Race, so why not?”.

ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2ND, FROM CASTELNOVO TO COLLECCHIO (94 KM)

On Friday, October 2nd, long distances will be back in Appenninica. Collecchio and the Giarola Court will host the sixth stage’s finish, 94 km from the start in Castelnovo ne’ Monti (Reggio Emilia) after the athletes have left the Apennine massif for the first time. 

The protagonist of the central part of the stage will be the town of Calestano, famous for its technical and fun trails. The Taro river valley will bring the riders to the final part of the stage, all the way to the Giarola Court, Appenninica’s headquarter for the last two days.

Ph. The Outdoor Lab. The leading group during the first part of the race

The Queen Stage has its king: Hans Becking

The Dutch rider of the DMT Racing Team, along with his teammate Tiago Ferreira, made the difference in the 110-km-long Queen Stage of Appenninica with over 4000 meters of elevation gain, further reinforcing his GC lead. Esther Süss continues her clear path among women

Ph. The Outdoor Lab. Becking and Ferreira leading the race

The Queen Stage was the litmus test for Hans Becking, and he passed it in swing. On Wednesday, September 30th, the fourth stage of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race brought the riders from Fanano (Modena) to Castelnovo ne’ Monti (Reggio Emilia). The boys of DMT Racing Team once again confirmed their class, taking the lead of the race early into the 110-km-long stage with 4200 meters of total elevation gain, and arriving together on the finish line of the “Don Bosco” oratory, in the town in the province of Reggio Emilia.

With a fantastic open-air view of the Emilian Apennines, Becking and Ferreira attacked from the start, on the Passo del Saltello, increasing their gap on the Passo San Pellegrino, Passo delle Radici and Passo del Giovarello. Always together, the duo kept the lead for all the 5h48′ race and was the first to get the look of the Bismantova Rock after the last important climb of the day, Passo della Cisa.

With today’s victory, the Dutch added another stage win to the inaugural time trial in Porretta Terme, and he further tightened his grab on general classification, while his teammate Ferreira, XCM European Champion, was runner-up. Third-placed on the day, at 9’16”, was French Joseph De Poortere (Rockrider-Decathlon), who beat Lorenzo Samparisi (KTM Alchemist Dama) in a sprint.

“Almost six hours of racing, it was tough! But it was worth it – Becking explained -. The first climb on asphalt was fantastic, the view on the Apennines was more and more charming as we proceeded. Tiago and I set our pace from the start, and being together was a smart choice, since dealing with six hours alone wouldn’t have been so fun. It was by far the longest stage of my season, and certainly one of the hardest”.

In the overall standings, Becking holds 7’44” on teammate Ferreira, and with today’s performance, Samparisi managed to solidify the third provisional place at 24’58”, as Milton Ramos (Rockrider-Decathlon) closed more than 18 minutes behind the winner.

“Am I closer to the final victory? Probably, but I have participated in many stage races and I know that you can not be sure until it’s over – Becking continued -. The legs are still great, and no matter where I will finish, I will return home from Appenninica with very fond memories”.

Ph. The Outdoor Lab. Esther Süss before the finish line

WHO CAN STOP ESTHER SÜSS?

Days go by, but Esther Süss doesn’t seem to be giving up an inch. In addition to winning the women’s Queen Stage, the former World Champion closed 20th overall in the stage, beating many men colleagues. At 28’22”, Gaia Ravaioli (KTM Alchemist Dama) finished second.

“Mentally it was tough today – Süss explained, exhausted, after the finish line -. I was alone for most of the time, and while the landscapes were beautiful, I actually suffered a lot. I always try to give my best and discover my limits, when I’m on saddle I like to give it all”.

THE BISMANTOVA ROCK ON THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1ST, WITH STAGE 5 CASTELNOVO-CASTELNOVO (50 KM)

On Thursday, October 1st, it will be Castelnovo ne’ Monti‘s day, with stage 5 starting and finishing in Piazza Peretti, in the old town. The first part of the route follows – in the opposite direction – a stretch of the first edition: after the first kilometers on paved road, a sequence of fast forest roads and uphill trails rise towards the Montemiscoso mountain village. A 5-km paved climb leads to the beautiful setting of the glacial-origin Lake Calamone, and from there, a long and pleasant downhill trail leads back to Cervarezza and another uphill forest road.

Back to the top of the mountain, there is a short and fun downhill that anticipates some “ups and downs” on fast roads until reaching the base of the majestic Bismantova Rock, an authentic symbol of Appenninica, and framing the last part of the course until the finish in Piazza Peretti.

 

Ph. The Outdoor Lab. The Bismantova Rock

Lorenzo Samparisi makes Italian fans cheer in Fanano

The KTM Alchemist Dama rider won stage 3 (Fanano-Fanano), seeing off leader Hans Becking in a sprint. Süss is unbeatable among women. Tomorrow the Queen Stage (110 km!)

On the third day of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race Italy has celebrated its first success. On Tuesday, September 29th, in the third stage, starting and finishing in Fanano (Modena), over 50 km and 2500 meters of elevation gain, charted with the unmistakable trait of famous trail builder Pippo Marani.

Lorenzo Samparisi (KTM Alchemist Dama) saw his determination rewarded with a victory on the Modena Apennines, conducting an aggressive race since the first ascent towards Passo Colombino. In his wake on the way up, the iron duo of DTM Racing Team formed by Hans Becking and Tiago Ferreira, whose strenght and consistency was on display once again.

Samparisi, Becking and Ferreira proceeded together on the ridges between Croce Arcana, Lago Scaffaiolo and Passo del Lupo, whose beauty has been enhanced by a sky never so clear in this edition of Appenninica.

The fun and electrifying final descent made the difference on the natural singletrack to Fanano, in which the hand of Pippo Marani – the creator of Val di Sole’s “Black Snake” – could certainly be seen. Samparisi attacked again with courage, followed by Becking, while Ferreira chose not to take risks ahead of the Queen Stage on Wednesday. Samparisi had time to raise his arms in the final sprint, while Becking consolidated his blue leader’s jersey.

“I attacked from the start, we were three on the climb, but I knew the final technical descent could have changed everything”, says Samparisi. “I didn’t hold back, I took some risks, and that eventually paid off. Tomorrow, however, it will be a different story: you have to manage the effort, and then unleash everything in the final hour.”

Even with the competition in full, however, the three protagonists of the day agreed on one thing: “When we arrived on the ridge, Becking, Ferreira and I looked at each other and said – such a shame we don’t have a phone to take a pic! – We didn’t expect something like this before the start”.

Third place for Milton Ramos, looking more consistent and smiling day after day, at 6’09”, while Ferreira reached the finish line at 6’44”.

In the overall standings, before the Queen Stage, Becking has 7’44” on Tiago Ferreira, 15’41” on Lorenzo Samparisi and 19’24” on Milton Ramos. “Today we didn’t want to risk too much,” says Becking, “Samparisi pushed hard, especially on the downhill, while Tiago preferred to use some extra caution ahead of tomorrow. The Queen Stage will be decisive, anything can happen, and victory is not granted. The one thing that’s for sure is the beauty of the sceneries we get to see every day.”

ESTHER SÜSS IS UNTOUCHABLE

Esther Süss (RC Gränichen) continues to command the women’s race. The former World Champion took the third success in a row: an unbreakable supremacy. The second position was once again of Gaia Ravaioli (KTM Alchemist Dama), 23’22” behind.

“I’m focused on my own race: the only thing that can distract me are the scenarios that open up around us as we ride on a great course. Today the descent was so much fun; I enjoyed it all in view of the difficult stage of tomorrow, where it will be important to be on the top of my game.”

ON WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30TH, THE FEARED QUEEN STAGE: FANANO – CASTELNOVO NE’ MONTI (110 km)

It is the stage circled in red on the calendar of all athletes. Two numbers are enough to tell why: 110 km and 4,200 meters of elevation gain. Tomorrow it’s Queen Stage time. It is the stage that leads from the harshest to the hilliest part of the Apennines in a succession of singletrails, from the province of Modena to Reggio Emilia.

After the descent from Cimone, a series of up and down will begin: Passo del Saltello, Passo di San Pellegrino, Passo delle Radici, Passo del Giovarello, all on various terrain, from forest roads to trails with roots of undergrowth.

The Passo della Cisa is the last significant climb of the day, leading the athletes in the medieval town of Sologno and opening the first view of the Bismantova Rock. From the village, the last descent and the crossing of the river Secchia will finally mark the desired arrival in Castelnovo ne’ Monti.

Ferreira and Süss keep shining in Appenninica

Another double for the DMT Racing Team duo in stage 2, 65 km from Porretta Terme to Fanano. The Portuguese won the stage; the Dutchman held the race lead: “The Apennine is stunning!” Esther Süss keeps dominating among women

Ph. The Outdoor Lab. Tiago Ferreira in action on the Apennines’ ridges

Only two days have passed from the start of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race‘s second edition, and “stunning” is the word you keep hearing in the village of the MTB stage race on the Italian Apennines. They clearly were not talking about the race outcome, at least so far: favorites Tiago Ferreira and Hans Becking, among men, and Esther Süss, among women, are obviously living up to the expectations.

On Monday, September 28th, the second stage took the field from Porretta Terme (Bologna) to Fanano (Modena) over 65 km and over 3.000 meters of elevation gain. It was different than the opening effort, and arguably more challenging: there’s little wondering why the stage was named “the technical.” Nevertheless, the outcome eloquently remarked what the first stage had already suggested.

Once again, Tiago Ferreira and Hans Becking of DMT Racing Team have celebrated together on the finish line, strengthening their role as favorites for Appenninica’s second edition. This time it was the Portuguese, reigning European and former World MTB Marathon Champion, to precede his teammate, who smiles in the blue of his Natali-branded leader’s jersey that he claimed yesterday and defended today.

“We accelerated right at the beginning of the climb to the Sboccata dei Bagnadori, around the Rifugio della Segavecchia,” Ferreira said, “and Hans and I paced from there, managing our gap.” “It’s a long week, so we need to manage our effort,” echoed Becking, “and this also allowed us to enjoy the sight a little bit, and it was definitely deserving. We saw incredible places on the course, and the second half of it was so much fun. I have been in many places, including the Alps and the Dolomites, of course, but I am discovering that the Apennines are beautiful in their very own way.”

After warming up the engine in the opening effort, Honduran Milton Ramos (Rockrider-Decathlon) displayed the quality that made him a serial winner of the Iron Bike: he was third on the day, a mere 32 seconds behind the DMT duo. Anyway, his first comment after the finish wasn’t about the overall standings: “Can’t believe the things I saw today. After traveling the World, you assume you pretty much know what to expect. And you’re mistaken: the climbs, the descents, the Apennine ridge we faced today are something incredible. I feel lucky to be here because I didn’t expect Appenninica to be like this: the places, the courses, and the special care they have for each rider like I had never seen before. Amazing.”

The first Italian rider, Lorenzo Samparisi (Team KTM-Alchemist), came in fourth place at 7’04”. Samparisi now occupies the same position in the overall standings behind Becking, Ferreira e Ramos.

Ph. The Outdoor Lab. Esther Süss celebrating in Fanano finish line

ESTHER SÜSS’ CLASS ON DISPLAY AGAIN

The women’s race also confirmed what Esther Süss had started showing on Sunday. The Swiss rider claimed another neat success, with the challenging Apennines’ trails enhancing the huge value of the former XCM World Champion and three-time Cape Epic winner.

“Another great course today, and such hard climbs! We went through really tough sections, and I think we will find plenty of those over the week. But my legs are spinning good, and I am enjoying my time here. There’s still a lot to ride, and that’s good news”.

Gaia Ravaioli (KTM-Alchemist) came in second at 18’48”, keeping her runner-up spot in the GC behind Süss and ahead of Sarah Reiners.

STAGE 3 ON TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 29TH, 2020: FANANO-FANANO (50 km)

The stage 3 will be raced mostly on the natural trails in the area of Fanano and Sestola. The stage is named “Pippo Yeah” after Pier Paolo “Pippo” Marani, the famous trail builder of Val di Sole’s “Black Snake” downhill course, who contributed to charting 2020 Appenninica’s third effort.

After the start on the tarmac, the path to the Colombino Pass will bring the race through chestnut woods to the Capanno Tassoni. From there, the view will open on the singletracks on the ridge between the Passo Croce Arcana, Lago Scaffaiolo and Passo del Lupo. Some portage will be needed before unleashing the speed on the technical tracks that are sure to give the riders a real adrenaline rush, all the way to the finish in Fanano.

Ph. The Outdoor Lab. Milton Ramos finishes third today’s stage

Ph. The Outdoor Lab. The ridges of the Apennines

Becking and Süss strike fast in Appenninica opener

The DMT Racing Team Dutchman has earned the leader’s jersey after the opening time trial in Porretta, won ahead of teammate Ferreira. The Swiss former World Champion set the tone in the Women’s race

Photo by Alyona Blagikh – The Outdoor Lab

They were the most expected riders, and they did not disappoint. Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race’s 2nd edition has opened in the name of DMT Racing Team’s Hans Becking and Tiago Ferreira, who dropped the hammer in the opening stage, a 45 km individual time trial starting and finishing in Porretta Terme

Porretta warmly welcomed the start of the only MTB stage race in Italy, in an amazing weekend for cycling in the Province of Bologna: just an hour and a half away from Porretta, in Imola, the Elite Men’s Road World Championship took place. The sun warmed up the early starts from central Piazza della Libertà, being later shaded by clouds as forecast, but no rain characterized the riders’ opening effort.

The stage 1 menu offered a varied course, pointing mostly up until beyond the halfway mark, with the ascents to Castelluccio and Manservisi Castle Park, and then up to the 1.428 meters of the Monte Cavallo. A very technical descent called the rider’s technical skills to the fore, before another challenging way up to the Monte Piella, where some portage stints were required to reach the top and the panoramic view on the Reno Valley, and the final path down to Porretta.

Photo by Marius Holler – The Outdoor Lab

Having started with a minute distance from each other, Ferreira and Becking rejoined along the course and consistently increased their margin over the stage. The duo got to the finish together, which meant Becking would take the stage and the Men leader’s jersey, having started one minute after the Portuguese. “A lot can happen over a week in this kind of race – Becking told at the finish – but we have started on the right foot. We were a little surprised by how technical the course was today: we’ll be more than ready tomorrow, as there’s still a very long way to go.” 

Third at the finish was Italian Lorenzo Samparisi (+8’35”), ahead of Dutchman Rob Van der Werf (+11.49) and veteran Milton Ramos (+12.42). The defending champion, Austrian Lukas Kaufmann, was just 13th on the day.

Esther Süss rides into early lead

Photo by Marius Holler – The Outdoor Lab

Many expectations also surrounded the Women’s race, with several athletes in a position to compete for the big prize. The first round went to Esther Süss: intensely focused before the start, the experienced Swiss put distance between her and the rivals, finishing 6’36” ahead of Italian Gaia Ravaioli.

Starting first means racing with no benchmarks, but when you see nobody closing in, then you know it worked out pretty well,” told the former World Champion and three-time Cape Epic winner. “I was astonished by the views from the course today: if that’s an indication of what expects us over this week, I can’t wait to take in the following stages.

APPENNINICA MTB PARMIGIANO REGGIANO STAGE RACE STANDINGS

Tomorrow’s stage 2: Porretta Terme – Fanano

Tomorrow, Monday, September 28th, the riders will line up in Porretta Terme at 8.00 AM for their second effort at Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race: Porretta Terme – Fanano, 65 km from Bologna’s to Modena’s province, sporting a 3.300 mt elevation gain. The stage’s title, “The Technical”, is telling of what there’s in store for the athletes.

After the first 15 km on flat, the long ascent in the woods to the Sboccata dei Bagnadori is expected to make a selection, taking the riders to the Apennine’s ridge, opening an incredible view: the Emilia-Romagna on the right, with the Alps in the background, the Tuscany and the Apuane Alps on the left. 

Through another climb to the Corno alle Scale and the tough Passo dello Strofinatoio, the riders will reach one of the most charming points of the whole course: 1.900 mt-high Lago Scaffaiolo. One last climb to the Passo Croce Arcana will leave way to the technical and fun descent on the CAI 425 trail to Fanano.

 

The countdown is over: Appenninica gets underway in Porretta Terme  

From September 27th to October 3rd, from Porretta Terme to Collecchio, passing through Fanano and Castelnovo ne’ Monti, Appenninica’s second edition starts for 450 km, 16,000 meters of total elevation gain, and featuring big names of the international MTB scene

The wait was longer than initially expected, but now Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage 2020 is ready to go. Tomorrow, on Sunday, September 27th, the second edition of the unique Italian MTB stage race on the Emilian Apennines will start with an individual time trial from Porretta Terme (Bologna). Trails, climbs and descents will keep the bikers busy until Saturday, October 3rd, when Collecchio (Parma) and the Giarola Court will celebrate the final winners.

Having been forced to push the event from Summer to Fall due to the epidemiological emergency, the Organizing Committee led by Milena Bettocchi and Beppe Salerno resiliently ran its initiative, and a prestigious starting list has amply rewarded it. That’s a promise of great fun over the 450 km and 16,000 meters of total elevation gain expecting the riders.

The XCM European Champion and former World Champion, Portuguese Tiago Ferreira, will be under the spotlight, making the race even more exciting along with his teammate, Dutch Hans Becking. His presence, however, will also motivate his opponents, starting with the defending champion, Austrian Lukas Kaufmann, who does not intend to give up easily despite a greater competition. As a specialist in this type of events, Spaniard-Honduran Milton Ramos will certainly try to add another race to his important palmares, while Lorenzo Samparisi is probably the top option for the Italian hopes.

Equally exciting is the challenge in the womens’ field, with a former World Champion, Swiss Esther Süss, leading a group of very competitive athletes. Lorenza Menapace, from Trentino, is back a year after winning the event in the pairs’ category (canceled this year due to health reasons), trying to repeat the feat in the individual race, while German Sarah Reiners and Italian Gaia Ravaioli will try once more to prove their talent. Finally, it will also be interesting to see at work former German Olympian Regina Marunde, who raced on the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines at the 1991 World Championships in “Il Ciocco”.

In the field, there will be also many athletes and enthusiasts whose experience will be focused more on the charm of the adventure than the competition, a journey to discover their limits, to complete the race and enjoy the beauty of the Apennines and the typical Italian atmosphere.

THE COURSE

The route follows, wherever possible, the MTB trail of the Alta Via dei Parchi that leads all over to Tuscany, touching the provinces of Bologna, Modena, Reggio Emilia and Parma. On Sunday, September 27th, the start and the finish of the stage will be in the thermal city of Porretta Terme (Bologna), with a 45-km-long individual time trial and the climb of Mount Piella as a key point, on top of which the beautiful scenery of the Reno valley will open for the riders.

More hurdles expect the athletes on Monday, September 28th, with stage 2 from Porretta Terme to Fanano (Modena) of 60 kilometers, featuring the ascent to the Passo dello Strofinatoio, with the charming coasting of the Scaffaiolo Lake, to continue with the Passo della Croce Arcana, the Passo del Colombino and the descent along the mythical CAI 425 trail.

The third stage on Tuesday, September 29th presents 50 kilometers with start and finish line in Fanano and was charted by renowned trail builder Pippo Marani: it will offer one of the best scenery of the week, with the majestic chestnut woods to frame the first part of the race, before facing highly-entertaining trails, with technical descents, ridges with view and toboggan.

The next day, on Wednesday, September 30th, it is time for the “Queen Stage”, from Fanano to Castelnovo ne’ Monti (Reggio Emilia) for a total of 110 kilometers and over 4,000 meters of elevation gain. Passo del Saltello, Passo di San Pellegrino, Passo delle Radici, Passo del Giovarello and Passo della Cisa will be the climbs on the menu, making for an epic day.

On Thursday, October 1st, Castelnovo ne’ Monti will host the start and the finish of the fifth stage (53 kilometers), taking place by the banks of the Calamone Lake in the first part, and in the nearbies of the Pietra of Bismantova massif in the second, for a rippling race full of ups and downs.

From Castelnovo ne’ Monti the riders will go to Collecchio (Parma) and the Giarola Court for the 94-km-long sixth stage on Friday, October 2nd, and leaving behind the Apennine chain and diving into the Po Valley, with rivers and valleys that will keep company to the riders during the whole stage.

A great racing week will end with the Collecchio-Collecchio stage, on Saturday, October 3rd, with 35 kilometers in the background of the Carrega Woods park, that is sure to be remembered for the ride through the courtyards of historical villas, home to Marie Louise (duchess of Parma and Napoleon’s wife).

Sunday, September 27th: Porretta Terme – Porretta Terme (45 km)
Elevation Gain: 1645 m

Monday, September 28th: Porretta Terme – Fanano (60 km)
Elevation Gain: 2650 m

Tuesday, September 29th: Fanano – Fanno (50 km)
Elevation Gain: 2300 m

Wednesday, September 30th: Fanano – Castelnovo ne’ Monti (110 km)
Elevation Gain: 4300 m

Thursday, October 1st: Castelnovo ne’ Monti – Castelnovo ne’ Monti (53 km)
Elevation Gain: 1900 m

Friday, October 2nd: Castelnovo ne’ Monti – Collecchio (94 km)
Elevation Gain: 2500 m

Saturday, October 3rd: Collecchio – Collecchio (35 km)
Elevation Gain: 650 m

Riding into the Emilian Parks’ wild with Appenninica

The MTB stage race on the Emilian Apennines (September 27th – October 3rd) will cross the Tuscan-Emilian National Park and the Regional Parks of Eastern, Central and Western Emilia: a full-immersion in the wild nature of the Apennines, including three bike parks for the bike enthusiasts

Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race is an event that feels more like a fascinating adventure than merely a race. An experience that you can’t wait to finish – 16,000 mt of elevation gain aside – just to start it over again, take a different direction, and discover the new scenery beyond a junction.

From Sunday, September 27th to Saturday, October 3rd, athletes from all over Europe at the start of the only Italian MTB stage race will follow the tracks charted in the heart of the Emilian Apennines by the technical team of Appenninica. Still, the beauty of the unexplored territory for the MTB world is sure to surprise them at every turn and glimpse.

Wherever possible, the Appenninica course follows the route of the Alta Via dei Parchi: a walking trail between Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Marche, crossing two National Parks, five Regional and one Interregional Park, through about 500 kilometers.

Following the tracks of the Alta Via, the athletes and all the fans of Appenninica can discover the incredible Emilia-Romagna natural heritage. The region boasts an Italian-record 14 Regional parks, as well as countless protected areas.

Starting from the East, the riders will first find the Regional Park Corno alle Scale, five thousand hectares of park dominated by the massif grazing the 2000 meters benchmark. Then will come the Alto Appennino Modenese and the 2165-meters-high Monte Cimone, the highest peak of the northern Apennines and, of course, of Appenninica.

Subsequently, in the province of Reggio Emilia, the Appenninica family will meet the Tuscan-Emilian National Park, in which stands the massive and fascinating Bismantova Rock, but also the Monte Cusna and Monte Ventasso.

When reaching the province of Parma, the athletes will be welcomed by the “Parchi del Ducato” and the Reserve Monte Prinzera, located along the Via Francigena path, an ancient route of medieval pilgrimage. The Taro River Park, whose headquarter is located within the Giarola Court, is a magnificent fortified rural complex, home to the last two stages; the Carrega Woods, whose lakes, meadows, hedges and cultivated fields have long fascinated the Parma nobility, will stage the entire final effort.

“We are proud to host this wonderful international competition in our Protected Natural Areas. This extraordinary landscape setting will certainly fill the eyes and the heart of the athletes with sensations and indelible memories, – explained President of the Managing Body for Parks and Biodiversity of Western Emilia, Agostino MaggialiSports in nature and outdoor activities are among the most important ways to discover and enjoy our Parks and Reserves, combining the collective need for environmental protection and sustainability with individual travel, recreation and wellness”.

Once the Appenninica race week is over, the landscapes and trails will remain available for all the MTB lovers. Indeed, three Bike Parks cover part of the race tracks, starting from the most famous, Monte Cimone, among the largest and most appreciated in Italy. Technical trails and equipped areas for enduro bikers can also be found in Febbio (Reggio Emilia) and Monte Fuso (Parma). There are plenty of ways to have fun and discover the less explored corners of the Apennines.

A closure in style for Appenninica in Collecchio and the Giarola Court

Focus on the stage venues – A fascinating finale expects Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race (September 27th – October 3rd) as the town in the province of Parma and the medieval Corte are set to host the last two stages

Our journey to discover the stage venues of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race, scheduled from September 27th to October 3rd, ends with Collecchio. Situated in the province of Parma, the town debuts as hosting venue of the MTB stage race on the Emilian Apennines. In particular, the Giarola Court will be the headquarter of the last two stages and the grand finale after a tough week of competition.

On Friday, October 2nd Collecchio and the Giarola Court will host the sixth stage’s finish, 94 km from the start in Castelnovo ne’ Monti (Reggio Emilia), after the athletes have left the Apennine massif for the first time. The protagonist of the central part of the stage will be the town of Calestano, famous for its technical and fun trails, while the valley of the Taro river will bring the riders to the final part of the stage, all the way to the Giarola Court.

The final stage of Appenninica, on Saturday, October 3rd, is a short and fun ring course with Collecchio and the Giarola Court as both start and finish. The first ten kilometers are flat and fast on dirt road and then asphalt, skirting the Taro river before entering the Carrega Woods park. From there, the bikers will have plenty to enjoy over the following 20 km, characterized by fast and technical dirt trails with rapid changes of slopes and direction. The park’s beautiful forest will always be in the background, with passages inside the ancient villas courts where Marie Louise, the Duchess of Parma and wife of Napoleon, stayed. Leaving the park, the remaining kilometers will be a long sprint on asphalt and bike paths until the well-deserved finish line, which will close Appenninica’s second edition. At the final dinner, the bikers will finally be free to taste the local delights with no more regrets.

“We have embraced this challenge with enthusiasm, not only because Appenninica can help making our territory known in Italy and abroad, but also for the sporting value that an event like this conveys – the Mayor of Collecchio, Maristella Galli, explains -. The Collecchio Administration is strongly committed to supporting sports. We believe in sports as a key vehicle of growth for the new generation, even more in this critical time when courage becomes even more of a value, and sports are a perfect benchmark for that.”

COLLECCHIO: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The territory of Collecchio extends to 11 km south-west of Parma in a beautiful area located between hills and plains, where life is in a privileged relationship with the surrounding environment thanks to the presence of two historic regional parks, the Taro river, and the Carrega Woods. Artistic and natural treasures are the lovely setting of Collecchio, an urban center able to combine development with the attention to culture and territory.

Worth a visit are the Arch of the Bargello, which gives access to the town, the ancient parish church of San Prospero and Villa Soragna, a building of the early ‘800, now converted to a public library.

Then there is the Giarola Court, where the race village of the last two stages of Appenninica will be set up. From the Middle Ages until the nineteenth century, it was a Benedictine monastery of San Paolo’s nuns. Inside there is the Romanesque church of San Nicomede and, today, the Corte has been renovated for the public and houses the headquarter of the Taro Park, the Museum of tomato and pasta and a charming restaurant.

DISCOVER MORE ON COLLECCHIO

Appetite grows with climbing in Appenninica

More than trails and dirt roads in the MTB stage race on the Emilian Apennines (September 27th-October 3rd), but also tasty local specialties to make the riders’ experience even more special

Ph. E. Melchiorri

Limiting Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race only to the competitive aspect would be overly reductive. From September 27th to October 3rd, the riders will find much more than a MTB stage race: the Appenninica family will help them into the Emilian Apennines’ culture and traditions.

The culinary tradition of the area, and of Italy as a whole, is undoubtedly one big motivation for those choosing the Appenninica adventure. Emilia-Romagna is a region of excellence in terms of cuisine, and the Appenninica organizers want to show it during the race, supported by title sponsor Parmigiano Reggiano and fellow partners Venturini Baldini, I Love Piadina, Parmonie, water supplied by Gruppo SEM and Coop Alleanza 3.0.

At Appenninica, the athletes will have to face more than 450 km and 16 thousand meters of total elevation gain, requiring a great deal of energy to be reintegrated with genuine and traditional food from the areas involved. Each stage venue will present its own specialty to make every stage unique from a gastronomic perspective.

Porretta Terme (Bologna) will present its pappardelle with meat sauceFanano (Modena) the tigelle combined with cold cuts, cheese and stracchino, Castelnovo ne’ Monti (Reggio Emilia) will treat the riders with the famous “rice bomb” and Collecchio (PR) with the “torta fritta” and cold cuts. Everything will be accompanied by many other local delicacies.

The highlight will then be the grand finale dinner offered by title sponsor Parmigiano Reggiano, in which riders can plunge into the tasting of the excellences of local food and wine. The perfect finishing act of the challenging but gratifying MTB experience in the Emilian Apennines.

“The gastronomic discovery is one of the reasons why we think of Appenninica as an experience, more than just a race – co-organizer Milena Bettocchi explained – Emilia is an internationally-famous area of gastronomic excellence, and living Appenninica without diving in this reality would be like giving up to a huge piece of its cultural heritage.”

“An athlete can finish the Giro d’Italia in Milan without eating the famous cutlet, but he cannot finish Appenninica without discovering the taste of the erbazzone, the fragrance of the torta fritta and the scent of the real mountain Parmigiano Reggiano. It is part of what we are. And it is also for this reason that appetite grows with climbing at Appenninica”, Bettocchi added.

Less than a month to go for star-studded Appenninica

Registrations to the stage race on the Emilian Apennines (September 27th – October 3rd) are closed: an exiciting edition is in the cards with great riders at the start, such as Tiago Ferreira and Esther Süss

September is the month of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race this year: there are now only 26 days left to the start from Porretta Terme (Bologna) of the MTB stage race on the Emilian Apennines, scheduled from September 27th to October 3rd, and the ordinary registrations for the upcoming edition have closed on Monday August 31st.

The Organizing Committee headed by Milena Bettocchi and Beppe Salerno resiliently ran their initiative in the tough months of the epidemic emergency, moving the race from the summer to the autumn season and working to ensure the event in full safety for both athletes and insiders.

This tenacity has been largely rewarded by a prestigious list of starters: many riders have been fascinated by the general offer of the course, a very demanding challenge with its 16 thousand meters of total elevation gain, and also by the beauty and scenery of the Apennines, an area still to be discovered, not only by bike.

There is going to be a tight battle both in the men’s and women’s competition: on the one hand current champion Lukas Kaufmann, European and former World Champion Tiago Ferreira, Milton Ramos, Hans Becking and Lorenzo Samparisi, while on the other hand the former World Champion Esther Süss, Gaia Ravaioli, Sarah Reiners, former Olympian Regina Marunde and Lorenza Menapace, just to mention some of the most anticipated protagonists.

“Despite a year with unique circumstances – Beppe Salerno explained – the participation numbers are very interesting, with some prominent names of the MTB world. Due to the COVID-19, several athletes arriving from outside Europe, particularly from the United States and South Africa, have had to give up the event, but will not miss the opportunity to be here in 2021″.

HE COURSE

Logistic reasons have forced a variation on the course of the last two stages, concerning in particular the stage venue. Collecchio (Parma) and the charming Corte di Giarola will replace Noceto (Parma) with no strictly technical changes in the course since the two municipalities are next to each other. “We thank Noceto for the availability and collaboration offered in recent months – Beppe Salerno commented – and we hope to return to visit it in the years to come. At the same time, we warmly welcome Collecchio, that will have the honor to crown the winner of a second edition that promises to be really enticing”.

Sunday, September 27th: Porretta Terme – Porretta Terme (45 km)
Elevation Gain: 1645 m

Monday, September 28th: Porretta Terme – Fanano (60 km)
Elevation Gain: 2650 m

Tuesday, September 29th: Fanano – Fanno (50 km)
Elevation Gain: 2300 m

Wednesday, September 30th: Fanano – Castelnovo ne’ Monti (110 km)
Elevation Gain: 4300 m

Thursday, October 1st: Castelnovo ne’ Monti – Castelnovo ne’ Monti (53 km)
Elevation Gain: 1900 m

Friday, October 2nd: Castelnovo ne’ Monti – Collecchio (94 km)
Elevation Gain: 2500 m

Saturday, October 3rd: Collecchio – Collecchio (35 km)
Elevation Gain: 650 m

Hibros joins Appenninica’s family

Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race welcomes Hibros in his big family as a new technical sponsor. The company from Bologna is specialized in massage creams and creams for the perineal area. It is perfect for taking care of the muscles after the efforts to which all athletes of Appenninica will be subjected.

Hibros products will be used by masseurs chosen by the organizing committee at the end of each stage, but will also be part of the prizes for the final winners, and thanks to the single doses included in the race package, all the Appenninica’s athletes will have the opportunity to test them.

Hibros Chemical Laboratory was founded in Bologna at the end of the 19th century by the Nadalini family, initially for the production of hair care products. In 1967 he obtained a licence for the production of bleaches and products for the treatment of face and body, while in 1999 was born the cosmetic line Hibros Sport, dedicated to athletes and in particular to the cycling industry.

Thanks to the collaboration with professional masseurs, the Hibros brand has become a reference point for the athletes of the most important cycling teams in the world, as well as official sponsor of the Italian Cycling Federation.

Safety first for Appenninica: new rules for enhanced prevention

The organizers of the Italian MTB stage race (September 27th- October 3rd) are developing anti-COVID prevention measures, according to the guidelines provided by the Italian Federation and the Government. Two significant changes to the race format: the race will be only individual, and the first stage in Porretta Terme becomes a time trial

Italy seems to have left behind the most critical phase of the Covid-19 emergency, but attention needs to stay high as cycling competitions are about to restart in the Country. The organizers of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race are putting in the utter effort so that the stage race, scheduled from September 27th to October 3rd, can be held in total safety for athletes, insiders, and the public.

The Italian Cycling Federation ensured the possibility to return racing, respecting the prevention guidelines for individual or collective races. Appenninica’s organizing committee has, therefore, made significant arrangements to reduce any risk situation significantly.

In recent weeks the organizers have been constantly in touch with the athletes and their staff, updating them on the developments of the emergency in Italy and the conduct codes established by the national and sporting authorities. At the same time, in addition to creating the Anti-Infection Committee, Appenninica is instructing its staff, volunteers, and external partners to provide more extensive knowledge of the prevention measures.

The so-called “Yellow Zone”, which brings together athletes and professionals, will be kept under close surveillance to avoid unnecessary contacts and maintain, wherever possible, social distance. For this reason, some technical procedures initially planned will be modified, or deleted, to minimize the risk of gathering in sensitive areas.

In addition to temperature measurement with thermoscanners, there will be several stations dispensing gel sanitizer and specific signals with the conduct rules in the race and common areas. Precautions will also be taken for refreshments and evening dinners, avoiding buffets, while athletes will be forbidden to exchange bottles among them.

“FCI guidelines follow the right way for the prevention – Beppe Salerno, co-organizer along with Milena Bettocchi, explains -. At this stage, it is crucial to be cautious, because the Covid-19 has still to be defeated. We are confident that these measures, together with the common sense of all those involved, will allow us to race in complete safety”.

For this reason, two relevant modifications to the race format were decided to further reduce the risk of infection. The first is the abolition of the “Team” category for the 2020 edition: therefore each biker will compete individually and not in pairs, with all riders being reassigned to their individual categories: “In this situation, bike, tools and any other object in and outside the race must be personal, and also the exchange of water bottles and bars is not allowed: we love the ‘Team’ formula, but we believe it is safer to renounce it as a further preventive measure for this year. Moreover, with the current extraordinary regulations, the podium is necessarily limited to three athletes”, Beppe Salerno explained.

The second change concerns the first stage on Sunday, September 27th, starting and finishing in Porretta Terme (Bologna), which becomes an individual time trial. Such an option will allow better management of the starts, with distanced starting grids enacted from stage two.

Useful information about Appenninica

Appenninica is a full-service race, so the registration fee already includes many services: from overnight stays to meals and technical assistance and many others. However, some extra service packages are also available to make the experience more complete and comfortable.

The race will touch four provinces, in four municipalities immersed in the Apennines beauty, over seven stages. It will start from Porretta Terme (Bologna), that will host the first stage (individual time trial) and the start of the second, then move to Fanano (Modena) and from the fourth, the Queen Stage of over 4000 meters of elevation gain, in Castelnovo ne’ Monti (Reggio Emilia). The finish of the last two stages will be in Noceto (Parma), in the heart of the Parmigiano Reggiano production area. THE STAGES IN DETAIL

Registrations for Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race are open on the website. Teams that have not yet had the opportunity to plan the 2020 season can contact the organizers for participation.

 

KeForma and Strategic Nutrition Center join Appenninica’s team

The new “Official Sports Nutrition Partners” of the MTB stage race (September 27th-October 3rd, 2020) will give athletes an essential nutritional and integrative contribution.

Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race family has grown bigger thanks to the agreement with KeForma and Strategic Nutrition Center, which become “Official Sports Nutrition Partner” for the second edition of the MTB stage race, scheduled from September 27th to October 3rd, 2020.

 To face a challenge like Appenninica, you need to pay special attention to details, like training, materials, rest time, and the choice of correct nutrition.

KeForma will give an important contribution to the athletes during the racing week on the Emilian Apennines, including its products in the athletes’ race package and making them available in the feed zones along the course, at the start and finish of the various stages.

The company from San Marino produces a complete line of supplements thought for sports and physical well-being, using active ingredients and certified raw materials of the highest quality, aimed at the specific needs of athletes of any level. Over the last few years, KeForma supplements have received remarkable awards from numerous professional teams and internationally renowned athletes. They are now ready to get involved with the challenge of Appenninica.

Joining the field is also Strategic Nutrition Center, whose mission and method perfectly match with Appenninica. The Bologna-based center’s philosophy focuses on teamwork, synergy, and confrontation with other professionals, with improvement, innovation, and continuous learning as a goal.

Born from the idea of Dr. Lorenzo Bergami, Nutritionist Biologist, an expert in Sports Nutrition, Integration and Nutraceutical and Anti-aging Potentiative Medicine, Strategic Nutrition Center will be at Appenninica with a team of experts, giving athletes the opportunity to undergo a Body Composition visit (BIA) at the start and finish of some stages.

“We decided to collaborate with Appenninica, because we love challenges, and teaming up with those who thrive for them – Dr. Bergami explains -. Seven stages in the Emilian Apennines woods are a unique opportunity for riders to test themselves and see how far they can get: any time they should be in trouble, we will be on hand to support them to the finish line”.

Appenninica welcomes Olympian Regina Marunde

The German MTB International from 1991 to 2004 took part in the Atlanta 1996 Olympics and is now ready to test herself on the trails of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race

The passion for mountain biking never vanishes, no matter if you are no longer a professional. Regina Marunde, born in 1968, knows it well: after having trod the most important MTB international races between the 90s and 2000 as a professional, she is still looking for new challenges on her bike in her present as as osteopath and personal trainer.

Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race, scheduled from September 27th to October 3rd, is one of these challenges, and the German athlete from Berlin looks to have fun and discover the hurdles of the Emilian Apennines.

“I cannot wait to face the real mountains again after the break due to the virus – Regina admits -. Staying in Berlin without the opportunity to test myself on challenging races was really frustrating, so I am eager to discover the routes of the Emilian Apennines and do what I like most: take my MTB and enjoy some real trails”.

Regina Marunde was a German international from 1991 to 2004, taking part in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, where she finished seventh, and in several World Championships and Cups. She had a good chance of being selected for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games as well, but a bad fall caused her several fractures, with no chances to recover in time to go to Greece. That year, in fact, she managed to win the challenging Transalp in the German Alps, going on to finish third the following year.

Appenninica changes dates, moves to September 27th- October 3rd 2020

Noted the persistent uncertainty about the regular course of sports events, the MTB stage race’s organizers decided to postpone the MTB stage race to the autumn: “We want to offer more guarantees”

There is to wait a couple of months longer than expected to live the Mountain Bike challenge in the heart of Emilian Apennines. Having assessed the constant situation of uncertainty regarding the conditions and methods of carrying out sports events after the emergency from Covid-19, Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race decided to postpone the second edition of the race to the next autumn, from September 27th to October 3rd, 2020.

The main features of the race will not change even if there will be a few more yellow leaves. Originally scheduled from July 19th to 25th, Appenninica ranks among the hardest stage races in the international calendar and the Emilian Apennines, through the provinces of Bologna, Modena, Reggio Emilia, and Parma, are the ideal setting.

“These dates give us more guarantees and meet the needs of everyone – Beppe Salerno, Head of the organizing committee along with Milena Bettocchi, explains -. We evaluated the situation day by day because a 460 km stage race in seven days requires planning and coordination, and this seemed to be the best choice for us. We are particularly grateful to the sponsors, and to the four host municipalities, Alto Reno Terme, Fanano, Castelnovo ne’ Monti, and Noceto, that have not pulled back and also supported the new placement in the calendar”.

The ambition to repeat the first edition’s success motivates the organizers: “Only a few MTB stage races are still standing in this very tough season. Despite the difficult circumstances, we are part of a small group of tenacious organizers who are still hoping to deliver a great experience to their participants.”

Determination, but also a keen awareness of the existing situation: “The Appenninica Family’s safety comes first for us. We are in touch with all the participants to inform them of every development, monitor the health and regulatory evolution daily, and we are studying the most appropriate solutions so that everyone can live the experience in the utmost safety and serenity. We hope that the good signals coming out from this lockdown phase will be confirmed and that these two more months allow us to race Appenninica in its usual entertaining atmosphere”.

As already made clear by Appenninica’s organizers, no one will lose his participation fee. “In these days we talked with our athletes, and many of them were enthusiasts for the new dates,” Salerno continues -. “Anyway, since the beginning of the emergency, we ensured alternatives for anybody who wouldn’t be able to participate under these conditions.”

The participation fees already paid for the 2020 edition will roll over to the new dates – from September 27th to October 3rd – and if the rider is not available to attend the event in 2020 for any reason, the participation fee will be valid for the 2021 event.

All the registered riders also have the option to cancel according to the current cancellation policy.

Appenninica doesn’t stop and ponders Autumn move

Pending the decisions of the Italian Government, the organizers continue to work for the 19-25 July fixture, while also weighing options for an alternative date in September/ October 2020, should the original one become unavailable

In Italy activities are gradually reopening, but there is still little certainty about sports events, whose organizers are trying to realize what will be feasible or not in the next few months.

Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race keeps working on its second edition, though the original dates, from July 19 to 25, will remain on the mend until the Italian Government and the Italian Cycling Federation will deliberate on the regulations on mass events. Possible restrictions for international travelling will also factor in the Asd Happy Trail MTB organizers’ decision.

“The ministerial decree has restored the possibility to circulate by bike from May 4thBeppe Salerno, Head of the organizing committee along with Milena Bettocchi, explained -. At the same time, we don’t have the elements to make a final call on the Appenninica’s date just yet. We acknowledge that there is a chance July 19-25 could be too premature in this situation: that is why we are doing our due diligence with our partners, host municipalities, Italian Cycling Federation and sponsors, to verify the option of pushing the event to September or October.”

A final decision will be taken by the end of May. Appenninica organizers had already previously taken stock of the unique circumstances, and modified the cancellation policy, so to ensure to all the registered athletes and to those willing to participate the utmost flexibility and peace of mind.

 

Parmigiano Reggiano supports hospitals in Covid-19 fight

The main partner of Appenninica MTB Stage Races has allocated one million euros to support the hospitals’ work and sustain its dairies

Ph. E. Melchiorri

The love for your own territory can be expressed in many ways and Parmigiano Reggiano, title sponsor of Appenninica MTB Stage Race, scheduled from July 19th to 25th, chose to act.

The consortium took the field to support Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna and Mantua‘s hospitals during this period of critical health emergency.

The Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium’s Board of Direction has decided the allocation of one million euros for emergency supplies, destined in particular to purchase technical equipment such as ambulances and respirators.

In addition, a supply of cheese will be donated to the hospital for the nutrition of its operators, to help relieve the efforts of doctors and nurses fighting day and night against Covid-19 since several weeks.

In this very tough juncture also from an economic point of view, the consortium chose to adopt an internal solidarity policy for its 330 dairies with PDO productions. A financial contribution will be paid to the dairies that are currently unable to process milk into cheese, due to quarantine or Covid-19 related provisions, and are therefore forced to sell it at a low price as drinking milk.

Parmigiano Reggiano follows a strict production discipline that counts a limited production area, including the mountain and pre-mountain communities of the Apennines in the provinces of Bologna, Modena, Reggio Emilia and Parma, right where Appenninica MTB Stage Race will take place.

In an overall challenging moment for Italy as a whole, Emilia-Romagna has certainly been affected intensely. The Appenninica organizing team is grateful to Parmigiano Reggiano for the important contribution to the health services and companies in the area, and proud of partnering with a company so strongly bound to the territory we love so fondly.

Appenninica offers certainties: full guarantee for the participants

The MTB stage race is working for the 2020 edition (19-25 July) and facing the COVID-19 health emergency: in case of postponement of renouncement for Coronavirus-related reasons, the registration will be kept valid for the next edition

Italian and International media are invaded by the COVID-19 emergency, many sport events have been cancelled and calendars turned upside down. However, in this uncertain juncture, Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race wants to be close to its participants and to all those wishing to join the race, scheduled from the next July 19th to 25th. The event’s policy has been amended in order to allow everybody to make their choices in full serenity.

The organizers keep working for the event from their home places, respecting the decree issued by the Italian Government, with the goal of being ready on the starting line in Porretta Terme (Bologna). “As difficult as it is to talk about MTB on days like these, when other issues are coming to the fore, the experience of endurance races as Appenninica is the perfect metaphor for situations like this, in which it is necessary to make renunciations and sacrifices in order to reach the goal” Milena Bettocchi of organizing company Asd Happy Trail MTB explained.

“We are confident that Appenninica will be able to take place as planned, in the special atmosphere that characterized the first edition. We believe it is important to think positive, especially in moments like this. At the same time, we are keeping a very close eye on the COVID-19 emergency and developments, and we feel the responsibility of going the extra mile to reassure our registered participants and those who are considering to join”.

Making choices in this moment can be tough, and that’s why Appenninica has decided to make some important changes in both its registration and cancellation policies.

The organizers have decided to eliminate the “Late Registration” price bracket altogether and, therefore, apply the “Regular Registration” fee from now until registration closes.

The cancellation policy is instead modified accordingly to the following:

Should Appenninica be canceled by the organizer due to the COVID-19 emergency, the participation fee isn’t lost, and it will become a credit for the participant to take part in a later 2020 race or, should postponing not be possible, towards the 2021 edition.

Should an athlete withdraw from the 2020 edition – July or the postponed date – due to reasons linked to the COVID-19 health emergency and backed by objective and proven reasons, in such event the participation fee will be rolled over to the 2021 event.

All riders registered have the option to cancel according to the cancellation policy at the time, or to roll over their registration as a full credit towards the new 2020 date or 2021 event.

In the uncertainty caused by the virus, Appenninica wants to give a certainty to its athletes: no one will lose their participation fee because of COVID-19.

 

When the tough gets going: Appenninica’s Queen Stage

105 km and over 4,200 meters of elevation gain: plenty of fun and suffering in the fourth stage of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race, from Fanano to Castelnovo ne’ Monti. It will be one of the hardest stages of the whole 2020 MTB season

There will be plenty to discover and plenty to conquer through the 458 km of the 2020 edition of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race, facing continuous gradients up and down, scattered all over the seven stages from July 19th to 25th, dealing with dirt roads, stones and single trails.

However, there is a date circled in red by all the Appenninica’s braves: Wednesday, July 22nd, the day of stage 4, the Queen stage of this edition. 105 km from Fanano (Modena) to Castelnovo ne’ Monti (Reggio Emilia) with over 4200 meters of elevation gain. The elevation gain to kilometres ratio makes the Queen Stage of Appenninica one of the hardest of all the stage races in 2020: a reason of extra pride for those who will be able to complete it.

“The interpretation of this stage won’t be easy – Course Director Luca Bortolotti explained -. After the start in Fanano, we will head towards the Mount Cimone, a climb mainly in tarmac of almost 18 kilometers with fairly constant gradient. The last part will be on a forest road and we will move on a ridge that will precede the first long descent towards Pievepelago, all on trail, and a final part on an old mule track, with many curves”.

“It is important to recover in this section as in Pievepelago a new ascent begins along the Rio Perticara that leads to the Passo del Saltello: another long climb on a trail. In fact, from kilometer 30 to 95 we will have 90% of dirt roads, which will test the abilities of the athletes with many pitfalls and no space to breathe”.

“After descending to Civago, riders will find one of the most beautiful and fascinating trails of the whole week. From Civago, they will climb up through a long cross, very technical and full of “ups and downs”, sure to be felt in the riders’ legs aster 70 km. The athletes will then arrive in Rescadore with a fast section, with many changes of pace on a surface full of stones and obstacles. From there another long ascent runs alongside the refuge Mount Orsaro and ends on the Passo della Cisa, where the riders will be able to breathe for a few moments. A trail leads up to the medieval village of Sologno and then to the bridge that crosses the Secchia river, from where it is possible to admire the Bismantova Rock. They will then return on asphalt on the provincial road until the finish of Castelnovo ne’ Monti”.

The stage winner will take six to six and half hours to finish the race, “but even the most trained riders will have to suffer”, Bortolotti said. But the true nature of Appenninica is to win the challenge with yourself, regardless the GC position. That’s why Appenninica opted to abolish the time limit for the two stages longer than 100 km. “We want everyone to come to Appenninica with the desire of testing themselves and give them the opportunity to succeed. We are their main supporters” Bortolotti concluded.

On the day, the bikers will race in the midst of the Parmigiano Reggiano production area, and a breathtaking scenary will frame their efforts on the MTB. It is not by coincidence that the Tuscan and Emilian Apennines, where the majority of the Appenninica action unfolds, were chosen by the UNESCO as MAB Reserve (Man and the Biosphere) to promote a balanced relationship between man and the environment through the protection of biodiversity and good practices of sustainable development.

Efforts rewarded by high-class services at Appenninica

There are many ways to live the experience in the Emilian Apennines from July 19th to 25th, with the full-service formula and quality extras. On February 29th the “regular registration” period ends

Race plus adventure: that’s the formula that inspired the concepts the Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race organizers to create a unique mix of unexplored trails, scenic beauties, steep climbs and technical descents, all to discover in an unforgettable week, from July 19th to 25th. But the journey is only part of the experience.

As in the first edition and following the standards of the main international MTB stages races, Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race is a “full service” race. Within the registration fee, athletes are provided services such as accommodation, dinners, refreshments and everything else necessary to face the adventure, focusing only on enjoying it in full.

As traditional for marathon stage races, the athletes will be offered inside dormitories set up in the host locations for the overnight stays. However, those who want to treat themselves with some extra comfort will have access to two hotel options, of different levels, with an additional cost.

In a territory with a great gastronomic tradition such as the Emilian Apennines, house of the main sponsor Parmigiano Reggiano, every day Appenninica offers its participants breakfasts and dinners with typical products of the area, with attention also to vegetarian diets. In addition, riders will find a well-deserved lunch based on fruits and carbohydrates at the end of each stage.

Refreshments, complete or liquid, will be offered during the stages. Fresh fruit and dried fruit, sweet and savory bread, tarts, energy bars and gels, isotonic sports drinks with salts, water and cola will be available in the complete refreshments, while gel and energy drinks will be offered in the liquid ones.

A one-week stage race can be very stressful for a bike, and that’s why an emergency mechanical repairs of emergency and lubrication point will be located at one of the refreshments area on the route, while self-service bikes washing will be available at the end of the stage with hydro-low pressure cleaning machines. The safe bike park, guarded day and night, is available to every competitor, each of whom will be equipped with a GPS tracker to ensure maximum safety, to monitor the position in the race at all times, and be able to detect any problems and take action if needed.

For those less accustomed to bicycle maintenance, it will also be possible to get some help from the mechanical assistance service out of the race, at an extra cost: the mechanics will wait for the bike at the end of each effort, to return it in perfect condition the next morning.

Also muscles need care after the efforts of Appenninica: for those who want to treat their muscles after the fatigues of day, a guided stretching with a certified Yoga instructor will be held, while massages of 25 minutes with a physiotherapist will be available as an optional package.

The organizers of Appenninica thought of many ways to customize the race experience, also for those who want to live the experience not on the bike, alongside their beloved ones. For those who want to face the adventure accompanied by not-participating wife and children or wish to add a few days of relax to the efforts of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race, Tourissimo-Active Travel in Italy offers the possibility to arrive a few days in advance for a short SPA holiday in Alto Reno Terme (Porretta) or to stop after the race to explore the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Bologna and the delicacies of the Parmigiano Reggiano dairies.

“Supporter” and “touristic” packages are thought for non-racers. The first allows access to the Race Village and its services, while giving the opportunity to follow the race from inside; the second is designed to be a “real” holiday pack, with its own program parallel to that of the race. Every day is possible to discover something new and special, before heading to the finish area in order not to miss the last meters of the stage of the favorite athlete.

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

From the city to the province, through the ridge of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines. It could be the byline of a local tourism campaign, instead it is he core concept chosen by A.S.D. Happy Trail MTB for designing the 2024 Appenninica MTB Stage Race route.

As per the tradition established in recent years, the edition scheduled from September 2 to 7, 2024, promises a demanding challenge. The race will cover 400 km and 14,000 meters of total elevation gain, guiding participants through the enchanting landscapes of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines, with its captivating ridges and villages.

The race will commence in Bologna and end in Castelnovo ne’ Monti, with the iconic Bismantova Rock serving as the final arbiter. The route will feature again Lizzano in Belvedere and Fiumalbo, the latter after making its debut in 2023. The new stage venue for 2024 will be Loiano , in the Province of Bologna, finishing town of stage 1.

The 2024 edition continues in the vein of the work done in recent years, yet introduces some new elements,” say Milena Bettocchi and Beppe Salerno, the event’s organizers. “ The kick-off from Bologna and the introduction of Loiano reflect the growing interest in this competition. Additionally, moving the Mountain Queen Stage to the penultimate day may introduce a thrilling dynamic to the finale.

DEPARTURE FROM BOLOGNA, GRAND FINALE IN CASTELNOVO NE’ MONTI

The 2024 edition embarks from Bologna on Monday, September 2, ascending towards the Sanctuary of San Luca. Upon reaching the sanctuary’s vicinity, competitors will navigate the trails of the renowned “Via degli Dei“, connecting Bologna to Florence. The journey covers 48 km and 1500 meters of elevation gain, concluding in Loiano.

The challenge intensifies on Tuesday, September 3, with the “Gothic Line” stage, featuring 63 km and 2250 meters of elevation gain . Starting from Loiano, the race will traverse the Apennines, parallel to the ridge line, facing four demanding climbs, the last exceeding 10 km in length, before the finish line in Lizzano in Belvedere. 

Wednesday, September 4, presents the “Monte Cimone Challenge XL,” a 65 km journey with 2850 meters of elevation gain. This stage, noted for its technical demands and significant elevation, will take riders across iconic trails, including those of Corno alle Scale and Cimone, between Lizzano in Belvedere and Fiumalbo.

On Thursday, September 5, Fiumalbo stages the “Tuscan Borderline,” offering a 69 km route with 2500 meters of elevation gain, showcasing the scenic trails and landscapes of Abetone.

The penultimate day, Friday, September 6 , features the “Mountain Queen Stage,” spanning 95 km and 3200 meters of elevation gain from Fiumalbo to Castelnovo ne’ Monti. Competitors will navigate breathtaking ridges and extensive forest trails, with new challenges distinguishing this stage from previous editions.

The event concludes on Saturday, September 7, with a 56 km loop around Castelnovo ne’ Monti in the Monte Ventasso area, boasting 1750 meters of elevation gain.

HOW TO REGISTER

Registration for the “Regular Registration” phase is open until May 31, 2024, with prices increasing after March 1. As in the previous editions, the organizers maintain the individual participation format and limit entries to 150 participants. This strategy aims to prevent overcrowding on the trails and ensure comprehensive support for all racers throughout the event.

THE ROUTE OVERVIEW

Stage 1 – Via degli Dei – 48 km and 1500 m of elevation gain

Monday, September 2: Bologna – Loiano

 

Stage 2 – The Gothic Line – 63 km and 2250 m of elevation gain

Tuesday, September 3: Loiano – Lizzano in Belvedere

 

Stage 3 – Monte Cimone Challenge XL – 65 km and 2850 m of elevation gain

Wednesday, September 4: Lizzano in Belvedere – Fiumalbo

 

Stage 4 – Tuscan Borderline – 69 km and 2500 m of elevation gain

Thursday, September 5: Fiumalbo – Fiumalbo

 

Stage 5 – Mountain Queen Stage – 95 km and 3200 m of elevation gain

Friday, September 6: Fiumalbo – Castelnovo ne’ Monti

 

Stage 6 – Windy Way Home – 56 km and 1750 m of elevation gain

Saturday, September 7: Castelnovo ne’ Monti – Castelnovo ne’ Monti

The Appenninici – An Olympic champion discovers Appenninica

Never stop learning and discovering new things, even if you are an Olympic and World Cross Country champion, thus rightfully included in the list of mountain bike legends. Despite his professional career ending a few years ago, Miguel Martinez still enjoys pinning a bib on his back: racing continues to be part of his life, and in 2023 he couldn’t resist the temptation called Appenninica MTB Stage Race.

Cycling and mountain biking represent freedom for me, a balanced way of living. It’s a chance to do something completely different from, for example, sitting in front of a computer. To me, the bike is everything. I need it, like air“, explains the French champion, Miguel Martinez.

The gold medallist in Cross Country at the Sydney 2000 Olympics participated in Appenninica 2023 with the Piraz Coaching Academy’s Mirko Pirazzoli team. The Frenchman has already raced in Italy in the past, and he knows Emilia-Romagna also for his past as road cyclist with Mapei. However, the Emilia-Romagna Apennines trails have been a pleasant discovery to him.

Appenninica is a challenging race, being on the bike every day for a week is not easy, but mentally, it’s a panacea. Every day, you see a different route and spectacular landscapes. It can start with an asphalt climb before entering the woods, followed by a technical descent. It keeps changing”, says Miguel Martinez.

After the experience of Appenninica in 2023, Miguel Martinez was officially charmed by the mountain bike stage race routes, the familiar atmosphere and the optimal organization of A.S.D. Happy Trail MTB.

It was the first time in Appenninica. I’ve been following it for a couple of years, and Mirko Pirazzoli (Team manager, ed.) has recommended it to me several times, telling me it was worth experiencing it. September is the right time: the weather and temperatures here are perfect. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to everyone because it’s a real surprise. In terms of organization, Appenninica MTB Stage Race has nothing to envy to Cape Epic: everything is designed to make you feel good and just think about having fun on the bike. It’s a family that works to the fullest to make you feel as comfortable as possible“, says Miguel Martinez.

And if a World and Olympic champion says so, you can trust it.

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

2024 will be a magical year for Bologna as the capital of Emilia-Romagna gears up for 12 months of major sporting events, with cycling taking the spotlight.

After the much-anticipated Tour de France stage finish on June 30th, the fat wheels of Mountain Biking will also have their moment under the Two Towers. Indeed, on Monday, September 2nd, 2024, the official start of the sixth edition of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race, the most important Italian MTB stage race, will be given in Bologna, where the event’s maiden edition had already taken the start back in 2019.

The Madonna di San Luca hill, the iconic setting of the Appenninica time trial in 2019 and of this year’s Tour de France finish, is set to welcome Italy’s most prestigious MTB stage event opening act once again in 2024.

On Monday, September 2nd, the stage race on the the Emilia-Romagna Apennines’ trails will kick off from the Meloncello Arch, facing the famous San Luca ascent. Curiously, the Giro d’Italia opening time trial had taken place on this climb in 2019, few months before the Appenninica’s debut: this time, it will be the Tour de France paving the way to the Sanctuary for the MTB stage race.

On the eve day, September 1st, will see Bologna brimming with the Appenninica MTB Stage Race’s essence as the city center becomes the hub for the pre-race fervor. Right after the start of stage 1, the race will head towards the heart of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines through the famous “ Via degli Dei”, the historic hiking trail connecting Bologna to Florence, crossed by thousands of trekking enthusiasts every year.

“In a year that will go down in history for the Tour de France passing, we are proud to welcome the Appenninica MTB Stage Race, an event that brings athletes and fans from around the world to our Apennines, and on a consistent growing curve. Not only does the city host a significant sporting event, but this symbolically strengthens the bond with the surrounding territory, reinforcing our commitment to a tourism strategy that benefits the broader metropolitan landscape,” says Mattia Santori, President of the Bologna-Modena Tourism Territory.

“Another significant sporting event will spotlight Bologna in this milestone year for cycling and cycle-tourism in 2024, with numerous biking initiatives, several of them related to the Tour de France’s passage. As usual, the city and the whole area will be ready to welcome the riders and everybody who will seize this opportunity to explore our region”, says Roberta Li Calzi, Bologna’s Councilor for Sport and Budget.

“Returning  to Bologna for the 2024 Appenninica MTB Stage Race start is a privilege. The city, a symbol of Emilia-Romagna’s heart, reaffirms its affinity for cycling and elite sporting events. For us, featuring in a program that includes the Tour de France is a further reason for pride”, say the organizers of Appenninica MTB Stage Race Milena Bettocchi and Beppe Salerno.

Becking and Piana conquer Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023

Hans Becking and Debora Piana are the winners of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023. Protagonists from day one, the 37-year-old Dutch rider from Buff-Megamo Team becomes the first male athlete to win the race on the Emilia-Romagna Apennines twice, following his first victory in 2020. On the other hand, the 34-year-old Italian from Team Cingolani-Specialized took the leader’s jersey on day two and never looked back, extending her lead over her pursuers and maintaining control throughout.

In the men’s category, the 2023 edition ended just as it began, with Hans Becking triumphantly raising his arms as he crossed the finish line. The Buff-Megamo rider dominated the entire week and secured a significant lead in stage 4, with the finish line in Fanano. Today, on September 9th, in Vidiciatico, Becking completed the 36 km loop with a 1500 m elevation gain in 1:44:12. He distanced himself from Ferreira and Tronconi just before the finish of lap 1, securing his third win out of six stages. Behind him, Portuguese rider Tiago Ferreira trailed by 2:16, and fellow Dutchman Tim Smeenge by 2:43.

Hans Becking and Debora Piana are the winners of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023. Protagonists from day one, the 37-year-old Dutch rider from Buff-Megamo Team becomes the first male athlete to win the race on the Emilia-Romagna Apennines twice, following his first victory in 2020. On the other hand, the 34-year-old Italian from Team Cingolani-Specialized took the leader’s jersey on day two and never looked back, extending her lead over her pursuers and maintaining control throughout.

In the men’s category, the 2023 edition ended just as it began, with Hans Becking triumphantly raising his arms as he crossed the finish line. The Buff-Megamo rider dominated the entire week and secured a significant lead in stage 4, with the finish line in Fanano. Today, on September 9th, in Vidiciatico, Becking completed the 36 km loop with a 1500 m elevation gain in 1:44:12. He distanced himself from Ferreira and Tronconi just before the finish of lap 1, securing his third win out of six stages. Behind him, Portuguese rider Tiago Ferreira trailed by 2:16, and fellow Dutchman Tim Smeenge by 2:43.

ITALY REGAINS THE WOMEN’S CROWN WITH DEBORA PIANA

Throughout the week, the women’s category closely mirrored the men’s competition. Debora Piana from Team Cingolani-Specialized displayed her dominance from stage two, securing three consecutive wins, starting with the pivotal victory in the Mountain Queen Stage from Castelnovo ne’ Monti to Fiumalbo. Behind her, Kristina Ilina also delivered a strong performance, claiming the other three wins and finishing as the runner-up.

The Russian rider from DMT Racing Team secured her third victory today in Vidiciatico, ahead of Piana and Swiss rider Nina Brenn, who oddly finished third in every stage of the week. In the overall classification, the Italian finished with a 28:16 lead over Ilina and a 2:12:17 gap on Brenn.

It was a very demanding week, and I’m happy that my efforts have been rewarded with the overall win. I’m glad to have participated in Appenninica: in the first stage, I closely observed my opponents and started to push from the Queen Stage, which was my primary goal. After that, the lead allowed me to control the pace. It was my first time in a six-day race, and it was a great experience. I hope to come back next year to defend the title,” said Debora Piana at the conclusion.

THE FINAL RESULTS OF APPENNINICA

Throughout the week, many riders competed vigorously in the various categories available: Master (over 40 years old), Grand Master (over 50), and Great Grand Master (over 60). The Master’s category was claimed by another Dutch athlete, Juul Van Loon, who won the gold medal ahead of Germany’s Holger Schaarmschmidt (+13:09) and Sydney 2000 Olympic champion Miguel Martinez (+1:21:02), who won the last stage after struggling with a strong cold during the first part of the week.

In the Grand Master’s category, Italian rider Emiliano Amalberti secured victory over Swiss rider Martin Steiert (6:53) and Swedish rider Erik Vrang (45:47). Among the Great Grandmasters, Austria claimed the top two spots with Maximilian Zdouc and Rudolf Springer (1:41:12). The third-place finish went to Polish rider Piotr Sozanski.

THE ORGANIZATION’S WRAP-UP

With the fifth edition finally in the books, it’s time for the organization to provide an overview of the entire week. The team at ASD Happy Trail MTB has been growing and improving year after year, raising the bar even in terms of logistics. The organization’s hard work received high praise from the athletes: the race sold out all 150 available bibs, and enthusiastic comments poured in throughout the week, thanks to the breathtaking landscapes, challenging and enjoyable trails, and the high quality of the food and drinks and Italian hospitality.

We have been growing year after year, and we have always strived to add improvements to enhance the overall rider experience. Once again this year, we have received great feedback about the trails, the views, and the flavors of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines. We are already working on the 2024 edition, with our goal being to continually enhance the overall adventure and make the Appenninica MTB Stage Race even more appreciated on the national and international stage,” said co-organizers Milena Bettocchi and Beppe Salerno.

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

Champions never give up, and Tiago Ferreira lived up to this pattern today, September 8th, in the penultimate day of Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023from Fanano to Vidiciatico. Even though the chances of getting back to the first position were getting thinner and thinner, the Portuguese rider went all-in and played his cards, eventually winning the 5th stage solo. Right behind him was GC leader Hans Becking, who surrendered 11” but is still in possession of the blue jersey with a solid 9:27 gap.

As it happened in most of the stages, the duo Ferreira-Becking set the pace since the very first pedal strokes. The DMT Racing Team athlete forced the rhythm on the Colombino Pass, with his rival of the Buff-Megamo Team being the only one able to stay connected. As the kilometers went by, Ferreira knew his chances kept shrinking, but he didn’t give up on getting the daily win: the final time was 3:26:09.

First podium of the week for Italian Federico Mandelli, arrived in Vidiciatico with a 5:15 gap on the winner, ahead of Tim Smeenge (7:36) and Bart Classens (12:54). In the GC, behind the usual suspects in position 1 and 2, Tim Smeenge confirmed his third place (33:08) over Classens and Kaufmann.

“It was a tough stage since the beginning, I have tried to attack immediately but I couldn’t drop Hans so we went together until the end. Unfortunately, there’s no more time to attack: tomorrow will be a fun stage and I will try to enjoy as much as possible. It was a great week and a great race: all MTB riders should take part in Appenninica once in their life”, said Ferreira at the end.

ILINA’S PRIDE IN VIDICIATICO

Kristina Ilina took her second success of the week, following the one in the opening stage. The Russian athlete of DMT Racing Team put up a solid performance and crossed the finish line in Vidiciatico in 4:07:40. Behind her, the GC leader Debora Piana suffered from a 12:24 delay, but the overall gap between the first two positions is still 30:13.

The stage started with the Italian of Team Cingolani-Specialized riding strong and taking the lead, but Ilina came back and took over the lead. Piana also crashed with no consequences, and kept the gap under control until the finish line. Third position once again for Swiss Nina Brenn, who occupies the same spot also in the GC.

“I feel better and better with the days going by, so today I thought about pushing and trying to win the stage. It is my first stage race on multiple days and the outcome is really satisfying overall. I had a lot of fun and will enjoy the ride one more time tomorrow”, commented Ilina in Vidiciatico.

GRAN FINALE IN LIZZANO IN BELVEDERE

Tomorrow, 9th September, Appenninica MTB Stage Race will showcase its last stage: 36 km and 1500 m of elevation gain with start and finish in Vidiciatico, hamlet of Lizzano in Belvedere. The “Monte Pizzo” route consists of a loop on the paths of the local bike park, putting at stake the last stage win and the craved finisher’s medal.

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

The Dutch domination continues at Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023: the Orange patrol keeps raking both in the GC and in the single stage finishes. Out if its 33 riders in the race (the Netherlands are the most represented Country at Appenninica 2023), it was Tim Smeenge to take the win today, September 7thfrom Fiumalbo to Fanano. The Dutch MTB Marathon National Champion sprinted over GC leader Hans Becking, who managed to extend his lead on his closest rival, Tiago Ferreira.

On the 59 km with 2350 m of elevation gain of the “Cimone Challenge”, winding through the ski area of Mount Cimone, the Dutch duo arrived together in the heart of Fanano. Smeenge started to push from the very beginning followed by Tiago Ferreira, while Becking chose not to elevate his pace and kept going with his own rhythm. With the kilometers going by, the Portuguese of DMT Racing Team lost track of Smeenge, while Becking made his way back and finished together with Smeenge.

On the finish line in Fanano, Smeenge stopped the time in 2:58:01, right in front of the Buff-Megamo Team rider, while Ferreira reported a 7:19 gap. Rounding out the top 5 were Felix Fritzsch and Bart Classens. In the General Classification, Becking extended his lead to 9:38 over Ferreira, with Smeenge solid third (25:44) over Bart Classens (38:41) and Lukas Kaufmann (42:43).

I’m very satisfied with my race and my day: it was nice to win and to extend the gap over Bart Classens, to secure the third place. I felt great from the beginning, and after the first climb I already had some cushion. I kept going with my pace until the second descent, when Becking got back and we rode together until the finish line”, said Smeenge on the finish line.

DEBORA PIANA MAKES THE HAT-TRICK

Debora Piana of Team Cingolani-Specialized takes the third consecutive win at Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023. The Italian took off in the first kilometres of stage 4 and on the first climb went already out of reach for all her opponents. Behind her were once again Russian Kristina Ilina and Swiss Nina Brenn.

It took 3:49:01 for Debora Piana to complete the stage from Fiumalbo to Fanano: in the GC, the lead is now of 42:37 on Ilina, and of over two hours on Nina Brenn.

I was in the front in no time, and this has allowed me to control the pace for the rest of the stage. I’m now in a great position: I think I can manage my gap on the second place without taking unnecessary risks in the last two stages”, commented Piana in Fanano.

“APPENNINICA DISTILLED” TO KEEP THE GAMES OPEN

 

The penultimate stage of Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023 will be held tomorrow, September 8th, over 61 km and 2500 m of elevation gain from Fanano to Vidiciatico, hamlet of Lizzano in Belvedere. “Appenninica Distilled” combines technical and fun trails, probably the last chance to keep the race open for the GC. The Colombino Pass and the Croce Arcana Pass are the two climbs of the day, followed by single track downhills in the Corno alle Scale area, are the most challenging traits of stage 5.

Becking and Piana strenghten their lead in Fiumalbo

New day, new stage, same result: Hans Becking and Tiago Ferreira keep being number 1 and 2 of this Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023. In the third stage held today, 6th September, with 79 km and 2350 m of elevation gain starting and finishing in Fanano, crossing the border with Tuscany for the very first time, the Dutch athlete of Buff-Megamo Team left his second mark of this edition, closely chased by the Portuguese of DMT Racing Team.

Their pace seemed once again too high for all other riders, and the fil-rouge of the race followed the pevious days’ once. After a group start with the leading duo, Bart Classens, Lukas Kaufmann and Tim Smeenge, Becking and Ferreira dropped the opponents once passed the Abetone area in the Ducale della Foce climb, and arrived together in 3:46:52.

Behind them, the fight for bronze is getting spicy. Bart Classens took today’s third place with a 4’00 gap, followed by Lukas Kaufmann (4th, X:XX) and Tim Smeenge (5th, X:XX). In the GC, Becking leads with 2’19” on Ferreira, while there are four riders chasing the last step on the podium. Dutch National MTB Marathon champion Smeenge is the new temporary third place (25’44”): fellow Dutchman Bart Classens is only 4” behind, while Lukas Kaufmann and Martino Tronconi trail by less than 5’ from the third place.

The race is hard and very technical, but I’m in the position that I wanted to be halfway in the week. We are both there on the same level, it will be a matter of details and the final outcome can still change a lot. I can’t point out what will be the decisive moment, we might even get to the last stage with this gap and the we will have to see in the last kilometers”, argued Becking at the finish line.

DEBORA PIANA TAKES OFF IN THE WOMEN’S CATEGORY   

Second consecutive win for Debora Piana of Team Cingolani-Specialized. The Italian brought home both stages with finish line in Fiumalbo on September 5th and 6th, first taking the leader jersey and then securing it with a solid X:XX gap on the first chaser on Russian Kristina Ilina.

In the third stage, Piana showed great shape and immediately got a little advantage on Ilina since the start, but the DMT Racing Team rider got back and took the lead at about the first Feed Zone (km 29). However, the Italian athlete rode her way back in the leading position and didn’t look back, finishing in X:XX . Ilina arrived second with X:XX gap, while Swiss athlete Nina Brenn, third place in each stage and in the GC, ended her day X.XX behind Piana.

“It’s great to have confirmed yesterday’s win in the Queen Stage with another strong performance. I probably could have earned even more time on the second place, but I’m still really happy with my day. I’m looking forward to having more fun in the upcoming days”, said Piana at the end.  

       

FROM FIUMALBO TO FANANO: IT’S TIME FOR THE CIMONE CHALLENGE

Stage 4 on September 7th, will take the peloton from Fiumalbo to Fanano through 62 km and 2350 m of elevation gain. The “Cimone Challenge” will take place almost entirely in the Mount Cimone Ski area, with a first ascent towards Pian Cavallaro, before the one leading to Sestola and Serre Pass. The finish line is in the heart of Fanano, right after the Fellicarolo climb.

Ferreira and Piana tame the Mountain Queen Stage

They were expected to be the strongest riders of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2023, and they are showing it day after day. Tiago Ferreira took the win of the Mountain Queen Stage, sprinting past the GC leader and winner of the opening stage, Hans Becking.

The second episode of Appenninica 2023 took place today, September 5th, starting from Castelnovo ne’ Monti and finishing in Fiumalbo. The 90 km and 3200 m of elevation gain were still not enough to determine who is the fastest among the two former teammates: the DMT Racing Team athlete took the win, but the Dutchman of Buff-Megamo Team crossed the finish line with the same time, keeping his leadership untouched.

As it happened in stage 1, Becking and Ferreira set the tone together with Tronconi and Smeenge. The strong group of escapees quickly took off and created a gap on the Cisa Pass and the Radici Pass. At around km 70, Becking tried to push and get another solo win, but Ferreira kept the pace and secured the win in the final sprint in Piazza Umberto I, in the heart of Fiumalbo. The Portuguese rider completed the Queen Stage in 4:27:18, immediately followed by Becking.

Third place went to the Dutch National MTB Marathon champion Tim Smeenge, with a gap of 2’31”, the same as Italian Martino Tronconi. Fifth place was claimed by Felix Fritzsch, 6’02” behind the winner. In the GC, Becking maintains the lead with 2’19” over Ferreira, 6’14” over Tronconi, 15’04” over Tim Smeenge, and 21:34 over Felix Fritzsch.

It was a long stage with challenging climbs. We escaped with a small group and stayed together for most of the stage, until Hans tried to force the pace with 15 km to go, and on the Radici Pass, we were alone in the lead. It is an important win for me personally, as it allows me to increase the gap with the third position and keep Becking in sight. Today was a good day, but there are still four days to go, and a lot can happen,” argued Ferreira at the end.

Deborah Piana

DEBORA PIANA STRIKES BACK

After being the runner-up in the opening stage yesterday, September 4th, she had promised to come back and try to take the win in the toughest stage of the race. Debora Piana proved to be true to her word, and after a solid performance throughout the whole Queen Stage, she could raise her arms solo in Fiumalbo. Russian Kristina Ilina, the winner of stage 1, didn’t have her best day on the bike and secured a second position, but was far behind the new GC leader.

Indeed, the Italian rider of Team Cingolani Specialized managed to escape immediately and didn’t look back, calling it a day after 5:13:41. Behind her were Ilina, 26’36” late, and Nina Brenn, once again in the third position with a gap of 50’42”. Piana now leads in the women’s ranking with 26’09″ on Ilina, while Brenn has over one hour of delay.

It was a great race day for me, both on the bike and with these landscapes. I felt good and after the first Feed Zone, I tried to push on the climb: Ilina didn’t follow, and then I just kept going strong to increase the gap. Now it is crucial to get the energies back and focus on the next four stages, which are still very challenging,” commented Debora Piana.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING

Tomorrow, September 6th, will be a historical day for the Appenninica MTB Stage Race, as the route will cross the border with Tuscany for the first time ever. The “Tuscany Incipit” is a loop of 79 km and 2550 m of elevation gain, with the start and finish in Fiumalbo, winding through the natural beauties of the Abetone Bike Park.

Becking and Ilina secure victory in the opening act of Appenninica 2023

Hans Becking secured the victory with Tiago Ferreira finishing as the runner-up, just like in 2020. However, on this 4th of September, the former teammates challenged each other in the opening stage of the 2023 Appenninica MTB Stage Race, which started and finished in Castelnovo ne’ Monti (Reggio Emilia). Becking and Ferreira were expected to be the primary contenders for the overall prize, and they demonstrated their intentions right from the start on the opening effort, “La Matildica“.

The battle was intense for almost 50 kilometers on the 57-kilometer route with an elevation gain of 1850 meters during the opening stage. Italian rider Martino Tronconi managed to keep pace with the leading duo until the final stretch of the race, where he was ultimately dropped and finished in third place. Five riders had set the pace at the start, with Dutchmen Bart Classens and Tim Smeenge briefly joining the frontrunners. However, around the 20-kilometer mark, the two Dutch riders lost ground and couldn’t regain the wake of the leaders.

Becking gradually built his lead over the last few kilometers. Following a daring descent just before the end, he put in a final surge on the last climb and crossed the finish line alone. In the men’s rankings, Becking leads with a time of 2:31:17, holding a 2’20” advantage over Ferreira and a 3’45” lead over Tronconi

Behind the podium, Classens and Smeenge maintained their positions as dark horses, with gaps of 11’27” and 12’34”, respectively. Lukas Kauffman (12’58”), Felix Fritzsch (15’34”), Holger Schaarschmidt (22’43”), Juul Van Loon (23’34”), and Lionel Poletti (23’43”) round out the top ten.

“I’m delighted to return to the Appenninica MTB Stage Race, and all the memories of my previous experiences and the breathtaking landscapes rushed back. I cherish this race with its challenging terrain and the high level of technical skill among the riders. It will be a demanding week, and tomorrow we already face the Queen Stage, a pivotal moment. Today, three of us set the pace, and I managed to launch an attack on a lengthy descent to secure the win,” said Hans Becking at the conclusion of the stage.

ILINA TAKES CENTER STAGE, PIANA CLOSE BEHIND

In the women’s category, Russian rider Kristina Ilina left her mark on the opening stage, finishing with a 36-second lead over Italian rider Debora Piana. Riding for the DMT Racing Team, Ilina kept up with the men’s peloton’s pace early on, and maintained her advantage until the finish line, crossing it after 3 hours, 20 minutes, and 12 seconds. Piana made an effort to catch up in the latter part of the stage but couldn’t completely bridge the gap with the leader, settling for the runner-up spot on the day.

Further behind this duo, Swiss cyclist Nina Brenn secured the third spot on the podium, trailing by 28 minutes and 59 seconds. Australian rider Imogen Smith (32’16”) and German cyclist Naima Diesner (35’02”), the winner of the past two editions of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race, rounded out the top five.

 

I’m extremely satisfied with my start. I could immediately tell that this is a challenging race, especially with those highly technical descents, but it’s also incredibly enjoyable to ride. I didn’t want to fall behind, so I tried to keep pace with the men’s group, and I succeeded in breaking away. I’m curious about what lies ahead, as I’ve never raced in such a long stage race, and I don’t really know what to expect. I’ll give it my all,” said the victorious Kristina Ilina.

QUEEN STAGE: HERE WE GO

If today’s opening stage served as a warm-up, tomorrow, September 5th, marks the longest day of the week. The Mountain Queen Stage boasts a challenging 90 kilometers with an elevation gain of 3200 meters, covering the entire route at high altitude. The finish line in Fiumalbo will provide a clearer picture of the riders’ skills and aspirations in the overall standings. For those with big overall goals, the time for hiding is already over.

Castelnovo ne’ Monti and the Bismantova Rock welcome back the Appenninica show

Castelnovo ne’ Monti (Reggio Emilia) has established over the years as a must-be location for Appenninica MTB Stage Race. From the base of its majestic Bismantova Rock, the MTB Marathon stage race (4th – 9th September, 2023) will kick off its fifth edition.

A total of 150 athletes from 24 nations are prepared to take on the Appenninica challenge in its renewed 6-stage format, aiming to secure the coveted finisher’s medal and possibly the overall victory. Among the favorites in the men’s field are 2020 winner Hans Becking and Portuguese rider Tiago Ferreira, who benefits from a strong teammate in Andreas Miltiadis, ready to contend for the title. Another potential contender is Martino Tronconi, although his teammate Nicola Taffarel was a late scratch from the race due to a last-minute injury.

Other riders with top ambitions include Felix Fritzsch and Lukas Kaufmann, winners of the Appenninica in 2021 and 2019, as well as Dutchmen Tim Smeenge (XCM National champion) and Bart Classens, who was among the leading riders in 2021.

In the women’s category, back-to-back champion Naima Diesner is the clear favorite for the overall victory. Her main rival is expected to be Russian MTB Marathon champion Kristina Ilina, with growing attention on Swiss rider Nina Brenn, who recently showcased excellent form at the Swiss Epic. Italian hopes rest with Deborah Piana, who secured second place at the 2023 National Marathon championships.

Today, September 3rd, the Appenninca MTB Stage Race program was opened by “Appenninica Lovers”, a non-competitive MTB and e-MTB gathering on the route of stage 1. Organized by MTB Vetto, the event acted as a true mountain bike festival and a fitting warm-up for the atmosphere in Castelnovo ne’ Monti.

THE ROUTE

Appenninica 2023 covers approximately 400 km and includes a challenging 14,000 meters of elevation gain from Castelnovo ne’ Monti to Lizzano in Belvedere, passing through new locations like Fiumalbo and another long-standing host, Fanano.

This edition marks the introduction of a new 6-stage format, as opposed to the previous 7. This decision by the Happy Trail MTB organization aims to simplify logistics for the athletes while preserving the route’s remarkable difficulty, which has earned the Appenninica MTB Stage Race global recognition over the past five years.

The journey begins on Monday, September 4th, from Castelnovo ne’ Monti, covering 57 km with an altitude difference of 1,850 meters. It commences from the foot of the Bismantova Rock and traverses the lands of Matilda di Canossa.

Only one stage into the race, and the Queen Stage awaits on Tuesday, September 5th. While shorter (90 km) than previous editions, it remains a demanding stage with a 3200-meter altitude difference to conquer before reaching the finish line in Fiumalbo.

There’s no time to rest, as on Wednesday, September 6th, riders will face a circuit around Fiumalbo that will once again test their ambitions. The “Tuscany Incipit” is a highlight of the 2023 edition, taking the race across the border into Tuscany at the Abetone ski resort, featuring a 79 km course with 2550 meters of altitude difference.

Thursday, September 7th, brings Stage 4, with Mount Cimone as the focal point. The “Cimone Challenge” route starts from Fiumalbo and concludes in Fanano, covering 62 km with a 2350-meter elevation gain.

The subsequent stage on Friday, September 8th, from Fanano to Vidiciatico, embodies the true spirit of Appenninica. “Appenninica Distilled” encompasses 61 km and 2500 meters of altitude difference, offering a mix of the race’s best elements: long but manageable climbs, technical descents, and breathtaking landscapes.

The grand finale is set for Saturday, September 9th, in the “Monte Pizzo” stage. This 36 km loop with 1500 meters of elevation gain starts and finishes in Vidiciatico, a hamlet of Lizzano in Belvedere, serving as the ultimate judge of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race, much like in 2022.

With 150 riders from all continents, the Appenninica challenge goes global

In July 2019, the world of mountain bike stage races welcomed a new event in Italy – a challenging race nestled in the Emilia-Romagna Apennines, a wild territory relatively unexplored by mountain biking enthusiasts. The declared goal was to unveil a different side of the Apennines to both national and, particularly, international audiences – similar to the most significant off-road stage events, from the Cape Epic downwards.

As it approaches its fifth edition, Appenninica MTB Stage Race has won its bet. Year after year, the number of participants has grown, luring an international contingent and athletes from various countries to take part in the stage race through the Emilia-Romagna Apennines, drawn by the opportunity to discover enchanting landscapes and test themselves on high-level technical MTB routes.

The Appenninica MTB Stage Race is set to continue along the same path, evident from the sold-out status reached two months before the official start. A total of 150 athletes from 24 Nations, representing 6 continents, will be at the starting line. Organized by ASD Happy Trail MTB, the race will cover over 400 km and 14,000 meters of elevation across six stages – from the departure in Castelnovo ne’ Monti (RE) to the arrival in Vidiciatico, a hamlet of Lizzano in Belvedere (BO).

The largest contingent comes from the Oranje team, with an impressive 33 athletes from the Netherlands. Following closely are Italians with 22 participants, and other nations with strong cycling traditions are also well represented: Belgium (19), Germany (9), the United Kingdom (8), the United States (7), and Denmark (6).

However, the fame of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race has reached far and wide, with athletes from GuatemalaSouth AfricaIsraelArgentinaCanada, and Australia also taking their places at the starting line of the next edition. This achievement certifies that the trails of the Emilia-Romagna Apennines are becoming increasingly attractive in the panorama of mountain bike stage races.

“Once again this year, the figures confirm the international nature of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race, with participants coming from all over the world,” state Milena Bettocchi and Beppe Salerno, co-organizers of the event. “New Nations join us every year, while others expand their presence, and we are also very pleased to have a substantial group of Italian athletes at the start.

APPENNINICA TEEN CAMP

 

From September 4th to 9th, alongside the stage race, a new project called Appenninica Teen Camp will also take place. This initiative is intended to involve young adolescents in an international and competitive sports environment characterized by the typical sports solidarity of stage races. A group of youngsters will experience the Appenninica MTB Stage Race from the inside, sleeping in tents supplied by Decathlon Italia, a sponsor of the initiative.

Every day, the young participants will wear different jerseys made by Respect Me, featuring awareness messages in support of cyclist safety. The Appenninica Teen Camp will provide an opportunity for them to engage in volunteer work, interact with formidable athletes and riders pushing their limits, while assisting the organization and providing support to everyone within the friendly atmosphere that characterizes the race.