It is now just over two months until the start of the 15th edition of the AlpenTour Trophy. This is a gem of a stage race, shorter than it’s more epic partners like the eight-day TransAlp, it nevertheless delivers a challenging and rewarding experience for amateurs and professionals alike. Based entirely out of the Tyrolean town of Schladming (which saves hassle – you only have to unpack once!), the race is composed of four stages around the local valleys, including that most typically Austrian inclusion, the uphill time trial to the ski station at Planai on day 2, run over 18km but with 1100m of elevation thrown into the mix. The remaining stages weigh in between 50km & 70km in length, but make sure you pack your climbing legs as there are very few flat km in there!
The organisation behind the AlpenTour are also responsible for the Croc Trophy in Australia, so they have plenty of experience of providing riders with the most extreme and challenging course available. As a result, their Austrian stage race often sees the cream of the European marathon scene rising the top, with former winners like Alexander Moos (BMC), Sally Bigham (Topeak-Ergon) & Christian Hynek (Ceska Sporitelna Specialized)and former stage winners like Alban Lakata (Topeak-Ergon) and Ilias Periklis (Protek) who have both been world marathon champion. In addition you often see ‘cross riders stretching their legs here, Bart Aernouts raced last year and Jan Danuwelaere already on this year’s start list. Don’t be put off though, there’s a very healthy non-elite contingent too, with a total of 330 riders racing last year.
Even with two months to go, the start list is starting to look busy, with a big Kona contingent already entered, with the men’s trio of Cory Wallace, Barry Wicks & Kris Sneddon all down to race alongside female team mate, and European Cyclocross Champ Helen Wyman. No doubt there will be many more recognisable names by May 30th, it would be unwise to bet against Bart Brentjens coming out of the woodwork again for this race alongside his eponymously named team mates!
MarathonMTB riders have also been present at the last two editions, so I’ll be following on in a fine tradition when I head out there to race and report in a mere nine weeks. In 2011, Josh Keep and Mike Blewitt were flying the flag, It’s a testament to how tough the elite field is that, having represented Australia at the Marathon Worlds, these two finished in the 70s, and last year it was Roeland Suys’ turn to discover just how hard four days in the Tyrol can be. Wish me luck, it already looks like I’m going to need it!
If you fancy joining me head to the website to look up the details.