Riders skills, strongly tested during Carpathian MTB Epic
After a fast and technical Prologue, which determined the next Start order, the first Stage of Carpathian MTB Epic 2018, strongly tested the cyclist skills and resistance. On Friday, the participants, both Elite and amateurs, had to pedal 60 km on the steep and rugged edges of Southern Carpathians, and facing a 2,700 m elevation gain. The marathon route combined 50% of single trails with forest and mountain paths, around 40%, and a small part of road. The track included exhausting climbs and fast plunges, and reached some spectacular points on the way: Start from Cheile Grădiștei – Fundata going through Valea Cheii – Curmătura Fiarelor – Vârful Bucșa – Șaua Strungulița – Padina –Drumul Hoților – Bătrâna Refuge and Peak – Drumul Grănicerului – Șaua Strunga – Poiana Guțanu and ended in the same area, at Cheile Grădiștei – Fundata.
The participants, among numerous World and European champions, were surprised and astonished by the beautiful untamed trails and views over the mountains. The cyclists who have conquered the Carpathians and reached first the Finish line of Stage 1, considered a hard but still a fast one, are the ones who stand forward at Prologue at Elite Men category: Peeter Pruus (Estonia) coming just seconds away before Marek Rauchfuss (Czech Republic) and Adel Filip (Czech Republic), being only a 35 seconds gap between these riders.
“I was not expecting such a race, it was unbelievable! A heavy and steep race, but I am satisfied by the result. I also had some problems, I fell down once and at the second point I did not get water, because I came very quickly and missed the hydration point. The race was really spectacular!” commented the Estonian champion Peeter Pruus.
The Czechs approached the team pedaling strategy for being on the podium, actually using the same method applied by the Slovaks last year, who won the first edition of Carpathian MTB Epic.
“After the start I did not feel very well and I was on the 10th place. The first hour was very intense for me because it was only climbing. Then I began to feel better and better, because I constantly hydrated. I pedaled with my friend, Filip Adel, we collaborated, we motivated ourselves and we ran faster to the Finish line“, confessed Marek Rauchfuss.
His colleague was excited competing in this stage race and surprised by the challenges met on the trail: “The ascending was crazy and very steep. It was five times more difficult than I have expected. Unfortunately, I had a flat tire and I had to stop at the second hydration point to fix it. Before this moment, I was on the second place. I’m a cross-country rider, so this race was quite challenging for me. But I feel great here, Romania is a beautiful country, everything is great and people are very warm and welcoming”.
The favourite rider of the competition, Belgian Frans Claes, the World series MTB champion, arrived the 4th and he has to push himself the next days for recovering the 2-minutes gap and have a good ranking in the final overall standings at Carpathian MTB Epic.
“The race was very tough and I had to be careful not to pedal very quickly to the descent, because there were obstacles on some portions, such as stones or holes. I was a little cautious, because I’ve never seen such a tough field. It’s really wild, but I wanted these extreme conditions, that’s why I love mountain biking!” appreciated Frans Claes.
The biggest surprise is Gustav Eric Larsson from Sweden, who occupied the 5th place after a very successful career in road cycling. It is important to mention that the Scandinavian has won two Silver medals at the European Championships in 2008 and the World Championships in 2009.
No surprises during girls’ race! The favorite cyclist, the Swiss star Ariane Lüthi, who won 5 times the famous Absa Cape Epic, came first just a few minutes ahead of Jovana Crnogorac (Serbia), who won the second place. This advantage certainly gives her some peace of mind during the Stage 2.
“It is a very beautiful race, very, very technical and very hard! I had to walk and push my bicycle along the trail, especially close to the top of the mountains. So, it was very tough but absolutely beautiful! It’s really and truly a mountain bike race. I would compare this one with Swiss Epic. It’s just a little milder, with more straight lines on the way. This is quite an untamed route and I would say tougher than the Swiss Epic“, stated Ariane Lüthi.
Jovana pushed herself mostly during the first part of the Stage 1.
“It was a very hard race! I was so focused on pedalling and I couldn’t even look around and admire the landscape. I actually felt my pulse in my nose! I had to push my bike, and with this climbing and the elevation gain reaching this high it was a super test for me. The location is amazing and many people don’t know about it, I think because it’s hidden, but I see it is quite popular here. The organization is top one and the routes are very well marked!“, told us Jovana Crnogorac from Serbia.
Lejla Tanović, three times Balkan MTB champion, occupied the 3rd place on the podium. The cyclist, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, stated: “I am very pleased, especially after the yesterday’s Prologue where I was on the 5th place. I saved some energy for today. It was a very technical and challenging race. The landscapes on the route were purely incredible and I am very happy that the event is organized in such a beautiful place! It’s a really special locations to be promoted. For mountain biking this place is the Heaven and I’m glad that I decided to join the competition. Everything can be compared to a world-class event starting with the organization levels end ending with the great atmosphere”.
Among the first Romanians arriving at the Finish line of Carpathian MTB Epic Stage 1 are Raul Sînza (Carcover Racing Team – MS Tina Focus), the 8th place, followed just a few seconds away by Arpad Kelemen (Nomad Merida CST), and Bogdan Duca (VeeTire), occuping the 15th place.
On Saturday, August 18h, it starts the second stage considered the toughest, with over 3,500 m elevation gain on a 60-km route. Most probably this will decide the final order in the overall rankings, where the competitors’ weaknesses can no longer be masked. Peeter Pruus will wear the yellow jersey and Ariane Lüthi the red one.
The second edition of the Carpathian MTB Epic, the most important multi-stage mountain biking competition in South-Eastern Europe, accredited by International Cycling Union (UCI), has gathered participants from 25 countries and is taking place during August 16 – 20, at the Cheile Grădiştei – Fundata Resort, in the Carpathian Mountains. The event organized by MPG Romania offers two choices to compete: 4-day EPIC, a race for both professionals and amateurs that consists in 180 km of pedaling and 8,500 m of climbing; and 1-Day Challenge, where participants have to ride 40 km and ascend 1,500 m. Competing in Carpathian MTB Epic 2018 the professional cyclists have the opportunity to win 80 points of UCI, which helps them to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The results can be checked on the official page of the event: http://www.carpathianmtb.ro. The MTB fans can follow LIVE transmissions and news about the Romanian multi-stage race on the official Youtube channel of Carpathian MTB Epic – click here, and the official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/carpathianepic/.