A violent storm hit the âHigh Mountain Queen Stageâ, the most anticipated stage of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2021, on Thursday September 16th. The rain was in the spotlight in this stage initially 98 km and neutralized at km 84 on the Pradarena pass, due to a heavy downpour hitting the finish line of Cerreto Laghi. The weather, which should improve by the time of arrival, made a bad joke for the Appenninica family.
To guarantee the safety of all the athletes, the organizers of the Appenninica MTB Stage Race Beppe Salerno and Milena Bettocchi, decided to shorten the race when the weather situation deteriorated in the last part of the race: âThe safety of the runners is always our priority – said the OC-. When things got worse, we made a difficult but most responsible decision. â
The fight for the final victory was shaken up, as the race lost two prominent protagonists after 30 km due to the cold: Milton Ramos, winner in Fanano, and the leader of the general classification Ilias Periklis, who had already won two stages. The Greek from the DMT Racing team has chosen to put his foot down to preserve his form for the next MTB marathon world championships on October 2nd.
A heroic Bart Classens managed to tame the rain, winning in 4:49:00 and gaining 12 minutes over new overall leader Felix Fritzsch. The German is back in the blue jersey with 6:36 am on the Dutchman. Italian Elia Taverna, who rode all week in the best positions, arrived 17 minutes behind today’s winner and is now 33:26 from Fritzsch.
“It was a crazy stage, but with this weather very similar to my Netherlands, and I was excited – commented stage winner Bart Classens – On the first climb I was with Ilias ( Periklis) but didn’t see him leave the race. In the second feed zone I lost sight of Felix Fritzsch so I moved forward at my own pace. In these situations if you slow down you just have more cold, anyway I did not realize that I had won â.
DIESNER CLOSER TO GLOBAL WINNING
Naima Diesner got even closer to the final victory in the women. The German arrives at km 84 after 6 hours and 28 minutes, ahead of Virginia Cancellieri by 23 minutes. The Italian athlete couldn’t keep up the first few kilometers and saw his overall chances wane, now with 39:41 to recover. Austrian Evelyn Sulzer confirmed her third position by paying 29 minutes at the finish line, and now more than an hour late.
THE RACE GOES TO CASTELNOVO NE ‘MONTI
After the âHigh Mountain Queen Stageâ which shook up the general classification, the race resumes on Friday September 17th, in the direction of Castelnovo ne ‘Monti. After the start of the ski resort of Cerreto Laghi, the athletes will face 65 km and 2050 meters of total elevation gain for a stage entirely mapped out inside the Parco Nazionale dell’Appennino Tosco Emiliano, Unesco MAB reserve.
The “Park & ââRoll” stage runs along Pranda Lake in the first part, then climbs to the Pradarena pass. After the descent towards the valley of Collagna, the race goes up through the pastures of Parmigiano Reggiano. After the Pratizzano pass, the athletes will reach Lake Calamone, before tackling the last kilometers to the finish line, in the Bike Park of Cervarezza.