A loop course around the Giarola Court brought Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race to an end. Hans Becking won the Men’s event ahead of teammate Tiago Ferreira and Lorenzo Samparisi in third, with Dutchman Rob Van der Werf claiming the final stage ahead of Joseph De Poortere. Esther Süss completed her perfect week in the Women’s race
He tamed the Emilian Apennine’s trickiest trails, ruled over the ridges, and even cruised in the heavy mud. On Saturday, October 3rd, Hans Becking conquered the second edition of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race, at the end of a week in which he proved the clear strongest among participants from all over Europe. The DMT Racing Team Dutchman saw off his fellow teammate, XCM European Champion Tiago Ferreira, and Lorenzo Samparisi (KTM Alchemist Dama).
Becking also claimed three stages in this Appenninica’s edition, in Porretta Terme, in Castelnovo ne’ Monti’s Queen Stage, and in Collecchio, leaving his closest rival over 20 minutes behind. “I am proud to add this race to my list of achievements,” Becking said. “I had so much fun. I found courses for real bikers, beautiful and technical. And what about the sights? Amazing. It was my first time in the Apennines; it won’t be the last.”
The 34-year-old Dutchman also seized the familiar atmosphere at Appenninica. “Big credit goes to the event’s staff, as people don’t realize how much effort there is behind such an event. I was able to realize it in full this week, and I wish to thank all the people of the staff.”
His teammate Ferreira echoed his feelings: after taking part in the biggest stage races in the World, he discovered the Apennine as a new frontier, a territory born for mountain biking: “It was real mountain biking every day here at Appenninica. We had no chance to get bored for a minute. It was a good experience, both the race and the typical Italian atmosphere that has welcomed us.” The Portuguese will now turn his attention to the XCM World Championships in Turkey in late October.
Samparisi stepped on the lowest step of the podium, after battling with the DMT Racing Team duo throughout the week: “I am very satisfied. I won a stage and was in contention in every other one. To be on this podium along with champions like Becking and Ferreira makes me proud.”
The final stage, a fast 32 km course inside the Carrega Woods, Collecchio, was won by Rob Van der Werf (Twe Het Snelle Viat). The Dutchman edged Frenchman Joseph De Poortere (Rockrider Decathlon) with Ferreira and Becking, in third and fourth place, respectively.
“There was no better way to clinch this experience – Van der Werf said -. I did not expect to win, but a short and fast course like this was perfectly suited for my characteristics. I will return home knowing to have discovered a new MTB heaven. I will be back here, for sure.”
ESTHER SÜSS MAKES THE EN-PLEIN
Esther Süss could hardly ask for more to this Appenninica: seven stage wins in seven stages. Even on a short and fast course like the one in the Carrega Woods, while preferring longer and more intense stages, the former XCM World Champion managed to beat all her rivals.
“I am happy to have won this final stage, the least suited to my characteristics,” the Swiss said. “I beat many younger athletes, which means my condition is very good. What did I like about the race? Everything! The trails, the sights, but also the human touch of the organizational team. I hope to be back soon.”
Italian Gaia Ravaioli (KTM Alchemist Dama) closed in second place, surrendering only to the strongest of rivals. “It was my first time in a stage race, and I learned a lot. I hope more and more participants can come to this race, also to reward the effort of these brave organizers that gave us a chance to race, even in this challenging year.”
THE HEART OF APPENNINICA
The second time of Appenninica came to a close in the Giarola Court, in Collecchio, with the awarding ceremonies and the final dinner with the World-famous tastes of Emilia-Romagna, starting with Parmigiano Reggiano.
Crowning the 2020 Appenninica winners were the Mountain Assessor of Emilia Romagna, Barbara Lori, the Parco dei Ducati President Agostino Maggiali, the majors of three hosting towns – Maristella Galli for Collecchio, Enrico Bini for Castelnovo ne’ Monti and Stefano Muzzarelli for Fanano, and the President of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium Nicola Bertinelli.
Only six months ago, organizing a sports event like Appenninica seemed impossible. The organizing Committee led by Milena Bettocchi and Beppe Salerno opted to hold on and move the event from Summer to Fall: a daring choice, but one that definitely paid off.
“In a year like this, organizing the event was a major feat in itself – the organizers explained. “We have had plenty of great feedback, and that makes us proud. Appenninica’s mission is to share our passion for MTB and promote our territory, the Emilia’s Appennine, still unknown and unexplored by most bikers. We believe that our mountains have won the heart of all our participants, giving us confidence for the future and making us more ambitious for the future. We wish to thank the whole Appenninica staff, whose huge effort over long months helped us to achieve this remarkable goal.”
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
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
From Sunday, September 27th to Saturday, October 3rd, Esther Süss, Lorenza Menapace, Regina Marunde, Sarah Reiners and Gaia Ravaioli will enlight a fun and uncertain women’s competition in the MTB stage race on the Emilian Apennines
by Absa Cape Epic
For those who love Emilia-Romagna and cycling, the next two weeks are sure to give strong emotions. In the coming weekend in Imola, road cycling pros will fight for the world titles. At the same time, just an hour and a half away, in Porretta Terme (Bologna), the second edition of Appenninica MTB Parmigiano Reggiano Stage Race will start, taking place from September 27th to October 3rd.
The organizers’ choice to confirm the event, moving it from Summer to the Autumn due to the epidemiological emergency, has proved successful. Many international riders opting in the MTB stage race on the Emilian Apennines to test themselves in the race and enjoy the typical Italian atmosphere.
If in the men’s field, top riders like Tiago Ferreira, Milton Ramos, Lukas Kaufmann, Hans Becking and more have accepted the challenge. On the Women’s side, the competition promises to be exciting and uncertain as ever, with big names of the international off-road scene expected in the Apennines.
Leading the field is Esther Süss, XCM World Champion in 2010 in Sankt Wendel, as well as twice European Champion, in 2008 in Sankt Wendel and 2010 in Montebelluna. Standing out in her palmares are also two Cape Epic overall wins: “I’m really curious to find out what Appenninica holds for me – the Swiss athlete explains -. Looking at the stages’ profiles, it seems that it will be a really hard race, and I usually like it that way. Honestly, I don’t know my opponents very well, but I think the overall level will be high and the race fun. I hope for good weather throughout the week, so to conclude this short and special season in the best way”.
Tenacious Lorenza Menapace won’t certainly stand by after winning the first edition in pair with French Danièle Troesch, and be willing to reclaim the title in the individual race: “In this weird season, Appenninica is my debut in a stage race – said the Italian -. I do not know what to expect, so far I have “just” concluded an Everesting at a high pace, the Oztaler Marathon and the Ortler Marathon, but I’ve never raced multiple days this year. It is like leaping in the dark, but I hope to have fun and finish another stage race, without too much pressure”.
Appenninica is also a new challenge for former German international and Olympian Regina Marunde, who debuted in 1991 in the World Championship right on the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, in “Il Ciocco”, where the XCO Italian Championships were held just a few days ago: “Last year in the Czech Republic, some French athletes told me that if I was looking for a beautiful MTB race with fun trails, I should have come to Appenninica – Marunde says -. That’s why I can’t wait for it to start, especially in such a particular year. Of course, you always try to be competitive, but the thing I like most is being able to share the experience with people who have my same passion”.
Rounding out the lot of favorites, 2016 Bike Transalp winner Sarah Reiners still wears the German national team jersey in XCM races, and Italian climber Gaia Ravaioli, 2017 and 2019 Endurance World Champion, also looks to factor in this enticing clash of queens at Appenninica.