Countdown is on for the “Italian Cape Epic”. Six months to Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano

The MTB stage race taking place in Italy, in the Emilian Apennines, is warming up for an exciting edition from July 19th to 25th, 2020

Ph. E. Melchiori

Only six months are left to the second edition of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race, and the countdown has started. From July 19th to 25th, 2020, the Emilian Apennines will welcome bikers from all over the world for a seven-day MTB race, looking to continue in the wake of the success of last year’s first edition. Again this year, hard work will be needed to the riders to earn the cherished finisher’s medal: given the profile of the Italian Apennines, an area still largely unexplored by the MTB world, that could have been taken for granted.

From the first edition, the organizers chose for a demanding course, putting a strain on the riders’ capabilities, but also giving them every chance to realize what they are surrounded from: a breathtaking landscape and a typical Italian atmosphere, which make “Appenninica” a truly unique experience.

It is more than a race, a real adventure to discover the territory, each rider’s limits, the authentic values that can be found in living a week fully immersed in the “big family” of Appenninica. A challenging and intense race that will be remembered beyond the final result, just like the Cape Epic, the South African stage race that is considered the most important in this specific sector. Also for this, considering Appenninica “the Italian Cape Epic” might sound ambitious, but not out of place.


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. The bikers will face a total of 460 kilometers distributed over seven stages, with steep climbs and technical descents, for an elevation gain of about 16 thousand meters.

On Sunday, July 19th, the start and the finish of the stage will be in the thermal city of Porretta Terme (Bologna), with 43 challenging kilometers 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, July 20th, with stage 2 from Porretta Terme to Fanano (Modena) of 65 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, July 21st presents 50 kilometers with start and finish line in Fanano: it will offer one of the best sceneries 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, July 22nd, it is time for the “Queen Stage”, from Fanano to Castelnovo ne’ Monti (Reggio Emilia) for a total of 105 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, July 23rd, Castelnovo ne’ Monti will host the start and the finish of the fifth stage (50 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 Noceto (Parma) for the 105-km-long sixth stage on Friday, July 24th, 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.

This great week of racing will end with the Noceto-Noceto stage, on Saturday, July 25th, with 40 kilometers in the background of the Boschi di Carrega park, that is sure to be remembered for the ride through the courtyards of historical villas, home to Maria Luigia (duchess of Parma and Napoleon’s wife).

Ph. E. Melchiori


As in the first edition, it is possible to participate in the Apenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race both individually– men and women – and in pairs, with three different modalities: men, women and mixed.

In order not to overcrowd the trails, many of which ride through regional and national parks, and to ensure the highest level of quality to all the athletes during and after the race, the organizers chose for a closed number of maximum 150 registered athletes.

Like all the main MTB stage events, such as Cape Epic, Apenninica MTB Stage Race is a full-service race: from meals to accommodation, from refreshments to mechanical assistance in the race, from out-of-race transportatio to technical equipment and medical assistance, every aspect is guaranteed by the organization at the highest levels of quality. Further services are available for athletes on request, from hotel accommodation to the bike setup after the race, or even the massages after the effort.

In addition, in collaboration with Tourissimo – Active Travel in Italy, Apenninica offers packages for those willing to accompany the bikers without racing, with the possibility to move easily and discover the beauty and atmosphere of the Emilian Apennines.


The promotion of the territory, and the Emilian Apennines in particular, in the perspective of summer and outdoor tourism, is one of the main purposes for Appenninica, and in this sense no better companion could be found than Parmigiano Reggiano.

Title sponsor from the start, the most famous Italian cheese in the World comes to life right in the areas crossed by the athletes of the Apenninica. Parmigiano Reggiano will lead a journey at the discovery of genuineness and authentic tastes, to be found at the feed zones along the route and as well as every night at dinner. All the efforts of the athletes will be paid back by the warm welcome of the Emilian cuisine.


At the start of the Apennines there will also be an official “Parmigiano Reggiano” team, led by experienced Italian cross-country athlete Andrea Tiberi, who took part in the Rio Olympics, now looking for new challenges in his last season as a professional biker. In addition to him, several more remarkable riders are expected in Porretta Terme, with a bigger international participation comparing with the debut season.

Among those who have already confirmed his participation in the event, there are the winners of the teams classification of last year, Dutchmen Maurits Buist and Henk Bos, Italian Lorenzo De Sanctis, third in 2019 in the solo classification, and Mirko Pirazzoli, also a former cross country specialist and now active in the Marathon activity.


To take part in Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race you need to register online on the official website:

Until Saturday, February 29th, 2020, it will be possible to enroll for a lower price, while the period of late registration will open from March the 1st until May 30th (or max number).

Ph. E. Melchiori


Another edition of legendary Paris-Dakar is in full swing but we have our own dirt-bike heroes at Appenninica.

Racing Medical Team

The medical team at Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano stage race will again have doctors from RMT – Racing Medical Team – to care and assist all of the riders no matter the terrain. Simone and Michele charmed everyone with their professional yet easygoing attitude, surfer look, and riding skills. Here’s what one rider had to say:

“What one must appreciate – especially in the Italian summer heat – is the fact that all the time around the riders circled two doctors on enduro bikes and constantly asked if the competitors were okay and if they needed water. Mind that this type of service is not often met at races.”

The full Medical Team will be:

  • 2 ambulances with advanced equipment, strategically located and that will move tactically along the race course
  • 2 medical ER in motion who will follow the race along the route
  • 3 assistance motorbikes
  • 1 doctor in the MEDICAL TENT at the camp of each Race Village
  • 2 ALPINE RESCUE teams at the most risky points


It is with great pleasure that we’ve learned that Lorenzo De Sanctis (Italy, team D’Orsogna) will return to Appenninica next July. He is a very competitive amateur who was on the podium at the 2019 edition and he has one goal: do better.

Lorenzo De Sanctis is one of those stories that make minor sports great. He kept up with Austrian talent Lukas Kaufmann (one of the best long-distance European elites) and former American pro Coulton Hartrich. It ranked third but without ever seeming in difficulty, we have never seen him really drained at the finish lines but rather always smiling. In the longest stage he lost the change for victory in the last descent. Too bad!

Lorenzo De Sanctis Appenninica

Lorenzo is not only an amateur but almost a novice. Yes, his MTB career years can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

He played football but gets injured at the end of 2015. Six months of crutches, the extra kilos that accumulate, and the advice to pedal to start rehabilitation.

And so begins the MTB chapter of the sporting life of Lorenzo De Sanctis from Guardiagrele (Chieti in the region of Abruzzo) riding a 26 with a triple (you do remember!) In April 2016.

A few XC races in 2017 but towards the end of the season he understands that marathons and the big elevation gains suit him best. The first epic challenge is the Hero of 2018 completed in 6 hr 20 min and the following year, in preparation for the Apennines, he betters his time of half an hour.

We asked him what his 2020 goals are.

Appenninica MTB is the event that he targets and he literally tells us that he wants to do the race of his life. He tells us “I want to improve myself, not spare myself in any stage”. Because he took third the year before, it is clear that Lorenzo is thinking big. Obviously the others will stand still but they will have to deal with him.

The queen stage Fanano – Castelnovo Monti (105 km x 4200 m) does not seem to frighten him, on the contrary, it is exactly what galvanizes him: “I hope to get ahead, far ahead”.

Winning the queen stage for an amateur who trains as he can manage and with many sacrifices would be thrilling. Of course, he competes for fun, but to take the win would be nice.

Then we asked him where he needs to improve to do better. Uphill, he did all right.

“I suffer short and fast stages and last year I’ve lost ground in the time trials. On the long ones I think I can be with the best. “

And what about the 2019 edition? What is your most beautiful memory?

“The environment you created, the relaxed atmosphere even if the competitive spirit was there. I met all wonderful people and I’ve stayed in touch with them. “

“The other beautiful memory is the long ride uphill – infinite – made with Lukas to chase Coulton and then play my chances for the victory.”

Good luck, Lorenzo!


Class 1993, Sarah Reiners is a young mountain bikers but a very successful one in long distance races. She is already one of the top MTB stage racers in Europe.

She took part in BEMC (Belgium), Bike Transalp, 4Islands (Croatia), Trans Schwarzwald (Germany), Bike Adventure (Poland), Trans Zollernalb (Germany), Zillertal Bike Challenge (Austria), Rally di Romagna (Italy).

Sarah Reiners – left – and Cemile Trommer © Miha Matavz

In 2016 she won the BIKE Transalp in the women category, and won the 4Islands in Croatia in 2017 in the mixed category. She represented Germany in the past XCM UCI World Championship in Switzerland and she races for the team EDELSTEN MTB ladies.

Let’s hear why Appenninica in 2020:

“For 2020 I wished to do again a longer stage race (up to 7 or 8 days) in a team of two because I wanted to do a stages race together with my boyfriend who has now been training with me several years, but we’ve never done a race together. We both love Italy and as we heard that the food should be so great at Appenninica, we know that Appenninica should not only be our first race together but also our holidays.

As the race is limited to 150 participants, we hope to enjoy a unique familiar atmosphere there before and after the races and during the race we know that hard and challenging stages are waiting for us.

We are looking for a lot of climbing meters, fantastic single tracks and a wonderful (and for us a new) landscape.”

In 2020 is special for Sarah because it will be her 10th year doing MTB races. So, she wants to celebrate with a special race. She added this final comment when we connected: “I am dreaming about Appenninica because it sounds challenging, it’s long with 7 stages, it takes place in one of my favorite countries, and I can race it in a team of two”.

Follow Sarah Reiners on FB

Follow team EDELSTED MTB ladies on Instagram

Go to the Registration page.


It’s hard to pass the opportunity to defend the title after a victory, whatever the sport or the situation. And so it goes that the organizers of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race were not all that surprised to receive among the first entries for the 2020 edition to be held from July 19 to July 25 2020 in Emilia Romagna, the one of Maurits Buist and Henk Bos, the winning couple of the 2019 edition.

The two strong Dutch athletes have decided once again to leave the lowlands of the Netherlands for 7 days and tackle the challenging trails all uphill and downhill in the Apennines.

We’ve interacted with them after several stages and they always finished with big smiles but they also reminded us what a “tough race” it was. In between smiles, you could tell that it was harder than they thought.

They engaged in a tight battle with Swiss team Meyer-Seifried. Things had a turning point on stage 5 when Seifried had to withdraw with an injured hand and Buist-Bos wore the green Natali team leader jearseys ever since. What ever competition they will face in 2020, they can now rely on a better understanding of the terrain and of how the terrain enhances their strenghts.

Buist - Bos #31

Buist – Bos #31

We were curious to know why they wanted to come back to compete in the Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race and we went to investigate:

Do you still have such good memories of Appenninica that you want to compete again this year?

We won’t forget the third stage for the rest of our life. A very narrow trail upon a high hill ridge. We had to focus every second to prevent crashing. Difficult for Dutchmen coming from a flat country.

Which part or which moment of the edition 2019 you want to relive in 2020?

We prefer the long distance stages. So we would like to relive the second and longest stage.

What led a Dutch team to compete in the Apennines?

We were told this region is one of the most beautiful regions of Italy..

Is it a region of Italy that you knew already?

No, this year it was our first visit.

What do you expect to find in the 2020 edition?

A repetition of this well organised event with delicious local food.

To whom would you recommend Appenninica MTB stage race?

This race is not only for very experienced bikers, but also for those who only bike now and then.

Yours plans for 2020? other races besides Appenninica?

We bike in Dutch competitions (crits, road classics and multi-day stages).

We have several dutch teams and solo riders already registered and we can speculate that there will be lots of orange on the podium of Appenninica MTB 2020.

Go to the Registration page.