Less than a month to go to the fourth running of the Südtirol Sellaronda HERO and this morning in the press conference at Bolzano many new features of and surrounding the event were introduced. Chris Hellman wrote an insightful report from last year, and with the inclement weather that Northern Italy has experienced this spring, his advice of taking “a good jacket and strong legs” should be heeded!
After being introduced three years ago the Südtirol Sellaronda HERO can now be rightly considered as a real mountain bike marathon. To take part in the race you need to train hard and to finish it you need to be a hero! However the HERO is not just a race and there are many elements which go into making it distinctive and this aspect was more than clear from this morning’s press conference – held at Flavon Castle in Bolzano – when, with the race date less than a month away, the Organising Committee spoke of the many new features for this year’s event. For the record the 22nd June will be the day when the starter’s gun will get the bikers on their way from Val Gardena.
The Südtirol Sellaronda HERO will be the last race before the 2013 Marathon World Championships in Kirchberg in the Austrian Tyrol, and the HERO has attracted many champions keen to fine tune their form. Elias Periklis, holder of the marathon world championship title won at Ornans last year, Steffen Thum and Sally Bigham, male and female winners of the UCI World Series 2012, will all be at the start, along with the winners of the HERO’s previous editions – Klaus Fontana (2010), Mirko Celestino (2011) and Leonardo Paez (2012).
Competing alongside the sport’s stars will be a horde of bikers, there being a total of 3,013 competitors coming from 30 countries.
As the HERO will host the UCI Marathon World Championships in 2015 and so as to respect the regulations of the international federation concerning the race distance the Organising Committee has modified the routes in accordance with the UCI request as applied to the marathon World Series. Consequently the 84 kilometre route (with 4,300 metres of altitude difference) will be the race route for the elite male category bikers (and all those holding a pass of a cycling federation affiliated to the UCI), whilst the ladies with the corresponding category requirements will do battle over the “renewed” 62 kilometre route. It is in fact this route which has undergone most changes so as to comply with UCI directives: in the Alta Badia part of the race a variation has been introduced so as to lengthen the overall distance, and likewise in Arabba, the result here being an addition of just over two kilometres, a change which has the extra advantage of freeing the centre of the Belluno town and ensuring greater safety for the bikers too. It should be mentioned that the two routes of 84 and 62 kilometres are open to male and female bikers of the “Hobby” category, they not having a pass of a federation affiliated to the UCI.
It’s the glory the bikers are after but the winners are also entitled to be rewarded in a way commensurate to the race status. The total prize money for the Südtirol Sellaronda HERO 2013 is 50 000 Euro and the winners of the UCI marathon 84 km and 62 km will take home a cheque for 3 000 Euro. For the winners of the “Hobby” category of the 84 kilometre race (both male and female) there is a prize of a mountain bike Bianchi Methanol 29.4 SL, and there are numerous other prizes for the first three classified including a Gopro video camera, MET helmets, adidas eyewear, HERO saddles made by Selle San Marco.
The event programme kicks off on the Thursday 20th June and the day after there will be the chance for competitors to try out the race route and there will also be the opening of the HERO Bike and Tech Expo at Selva Gardena, and it is from here that you can pick up your race-pack (on Thursday 20/6 from 14.00 to 20.00 and Friday 21/06 from 10.00 to 20.00). The Südtirol Sellaronda HERO gets going on Saturday 22nd June from 7.20 to 8.45 (your race number allocated to one of six starting grids) and the arrival of the winning female biker in the 62 km marathon is expected at about 11.20, while the winner of the male 84 kilometre marathon is expected to cross the finishing line at about 12.20. Following on from last year’s wonderful experience the Organising Committee have confirmed the Official Prize Ceremony for 21.00, and it will be proceeded by the group Westbound in concert: a charity event in favour of humanitarian projects in Africa. One of the side events not to miss is the showing of the HEROes documentary at the cultural centre in Selva Val Gardena at 18.00: a great chance to appreciate the competitive nature of the race. On Saturday keep an eye out for HERO KIDS: 300 young bikers competing on the roads around Selva.
Activity in support of young sporting talent in South Tyrol is a constant element in the focus of the Organising Committee of the Südtirol Sellaronda HERO and for the fourth year running 100 race start numbers called HERO FOR HEROES have been sold as packages and the proceeds have been devolved to Assisport, the association which has as its aim practical help for the young sporting talent in the province of Bolzano so they can turn their promise into reality and make progress in the world of sport