Südtirol: a land of incredible beauty, great mountains, apples and – of course – mountain bike. The Internazionali d’Italia Series return to Sudtirol, in Nals, to renew the classic appointment with the Marlene Südtirol Sunshine Race, that on Saturday and Sunday, April 8th and 9th, celebrates the 17th edition of its prestigious history, that features some of the top names in World MTB.
The Nals’ circuit is well known in the MTB world for being one of the most demanding around. The loop is 4,3 km long, plus a launch loop just after the start. The most feared and characteristic sections comes early in the lap: the Usignolo climb, a 1 km ascent (600 mt in the woods) with 10 hairpin bends, that usually makes the selection among the race contenders. After the spectacular Keschtnigl, Gugguhütte and Step Downhill technical sections, with jumps and spectacular drops, the Ganterer descent leads the riders to the Stachelburg ranch, and from there to the finish. The lap’s overall altitude is 190 mt: condition and resistance are on demand to win in Nals.
Marlene Südtirol Sunshine Race can boast a prestigious golden book, featuring top names such as Julien Absalon (2005), Nino Schurter (2010), Marco Aurelio Fontana (2012), Manuel Fumic (2013 e 2014), and Florian Vogel (2015) among men, and women like Paola Pezzo (2004), Eva Lechner (2009-2010-2013-2014) and Gunn-Rita Dahle, who holds the record of wins with five (2003-2006-2007-2015-2016), including last year’s edition, that was won by Stephane Tempier of Bianchi Countervail in the Open Men category.
The Frenchman will once again be at the start to pursue a repeat, along with his teammate Marco Aurelio Fontana, who will attempt to bring the Italian flag back on top after several seasons: the Prorider himself was the last Italian winner in time, back in 2012. The two Bianchi riders will look to contend the laurels to Swiss Florian Vogel (Focus XC), winner in Nals in 2015, who is carrying a good condition as showed with his success in Milan.
Among the Italian riders, Andrea Tiberi (NOB Selle Italia), Luca and Daniele Braidot (CS Carabinieri) and home-guy Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Torpado-Gabogas) are certainly worth a look.
In the women series, legendary Gunn-Rita Dahle (Team Merida) will start as the top favorite, trying to go for a sixth win in Nals (it would also be the third straight).The most credited rival will be Swiss Linda Indergand (Focus XC), who dominated the HC race in Montichiari, while Südtirol’s riders Lisa Rabensteiner (Focus XC), Anna Oberparleiter (Lapierre Trentino Alè) and Greta Seiwald (Focus Italia) will also try to be in contention, joined by fellow “azzurre” Chiara Teocchi (Bianchi Countervail), Martina Berta (BH SR Suntour) and Serena Calvetti (Damil-GT Trevisan).
A QUEEN FOR THE NEW MTB TRAINING AREA
In its history, the Marlene Südtirol Sunshine Race often launched innovative formulas and initiatives for the youngsters’ categories: Nals was where the first Junior Series experiment was held, as well as the first Cross Country Eliminator race in Italy, while now the technical competition of Saturday – open to Rookies and Cadets – mirrors the one in the European Championships programme.
On Wednesday April 5th, a new MTB training area of 6.000 sqm will be opened in Nals: a facility where youngsters will be able to have fun and train their riding skills in full safety. Taking part to the opening will be a special guest: Gunn-Rita Dahle.
The show at Marlene Sudtirol Sunshine Race will start on Saturday April 8th, when the Rookies (11.00-15.00) and Cadets (13.00-17.00) will join a technical competition, leading up to the following day’s races.
The rookies will open the programme on Sunday April 9th at 8.30, followed by Cadets (9.30), Junior Men (10.45), Open and Junior Women (12.30) and finally the Open Men race at 14.30.