The Marlene Südtirol Sunshine Race set the stage for 824 riders to show off tomorrow. Big expectations for the Open Races, with loads of big names at the start, and the second stage of UCI Junior Series
In a year in which Spring seems to never come, Summer has suddenly bloomed in Nals: once again, the Marlene Südtirol Sunshine Race lived up to its name, with a beautiful sunny day welcoming the riders on the day before the debut of the new season of Internazionali d’Italia Series, starting tomorrow, Sunday April 15th.
The Italian HC race is clearly much anticipated by the riders, who chose different ways to tackle the eve: for instance, Jolanda Neff (Kross Factory Racing) barely showed up in the teams’ area (but the Swiss rider had tested the route before, having spent the whole week in Südtirol), Maxime Marotte (Cannondale Factory Racing) chose to make a few laps, whilst European Champion Florian Vogel spent quite some time on a course he knows very well, with the highlight of his 2015 victory.
The Marlene Südtirol Sunshine Race celebrates the 18th edition of its prestigious history, but there are important riders making their very first appearance this year. Among them, Mathias Flückiger (Thomus-RN Racing) was positively impressed with the route immersed in the apple orchards: “We don’t see circuits like this anymore in the World Cup, with long uphills and downhills, but I am happy we still get this kind of opportunity. That’s mountain bike, it’s nice to face different kind of races: this course is almost totally natural, without those artificial obstacles we see nearly everywhere now in cross country races. I like it a lot, and with the condition I boast I believe in my chances.”
On his side at the start of the Open Men race, Flückiger will find – along with Marotte and Vogel – also Stephane Tempier (Bianchi Countervail), a veteran of the Nals’ race: “I think I have raced here no less than ten times – the Frenchman told with a smile – but I am really happy with that, as that’s a race I like a lot. I won it two years ago, last year I finished in the wake of my teammate Marco Aurelio Fontana. Who’ll come on top tomorrow? The one with more energy to spend: this not a race of tactics, it’s more a matter of strength and endurance. “
Lining up in the first row will be also home guy Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Torpado-Gabogas), who will try to give Italian fans a joy, along with last year’s winner Marco Aurelio Fontana (Bianchi Countervail), Nadir Colledani (Bianchi Countervail), Andrea Tiberi and Gioele Bertolini (Focus-Selle Italia), in a top-level race.
Star-loaded field also among women, with two World Champions – Jolanda Neff (Kross Factory Racing) for Elites and Sina Frei (Ghost Factory Racing) for Under 23, eternal Gunn-Rita Dahle (Gunn-Rita Team Merida), a six-time winner in Nals, World Cup holder Yana Belomoina (CST Sandd American Eagle), Linda Indergand (Focus XC Team), Maja Wloszczowska (Kross Factory Racing) and many more. Italy will rely on outsiders Serena Calvetti (KTM Protec Dama) and Chiara Teocchi (Bianchi Countervail), as well as Südtirol-raised Anna Oberparleiter (Lapierre Team Alè), Lisa Rabensteiner and Greta Seiwald (Focus-Selle Italia).
The strongest Junior in the World will also be in the spotlight on Sunday in Nals, with the second round of the UCI Junior Series. Among the starters, also the Junior Women’s World Champion, Austrian Laura Stigger.
The Nalles route is well known in the Mountain Bike field as one of the most challenging. Its length is of 4.3 km, to which is added an initial launch stretch for the first lap only. Right at the beginning we find the most feared and characteristic stretch of the Marlene Südtirol Sunshine Race: the “Hill of the Nightingale”, the challenging 1 km-stretch (600 meters in the woods) with 10 hairpin bends, which traditionally states which contenders may really go for the victory. After the spectacular stretches of the Keschtnigl, the Gugguhütte and the Step Downhill, technical parts with different features and jumps as well as spectacular downhills, the Ganterer downhill leads the athletes to the Stachelburg estate and then brings them back to the finish line. The total difference in height is 190 meters: it takes brilliance, fund and endurance to win in Nals.
Already on Saturday, Marlene Südtirol Sunshine Race has opened its programme with the special technical competition open to Cadets and Rookies.
On Sunday, April 15 at 8:15 Women Cadets and Rookies, Men Rookies (10:00), Juniores Men – UCI Junior Series (11:15), Women Open and Women Juniores – UCI Junior Series (13:00), Men Open (15:00). The award ceremony takes place at the end of each competition.
Another new and important feature of the 2018 season is represented by the live streaming that Internazionali d’Italia Series will provide via its official channels. From 14.50 CET, it will be possible to follow the Open Men’s race live, with extensive highlights and interviews of all the races.