This Saturday, the Sutirol welcomes the international marathon mountain biking community back to their towns. The 19th rendition of the Südtirol Dolomiti Superbike forms part of the Marathon World Series, the routes have had to be redefined. The men tackle the 113.8 km/3.357m course; the ladies contest the 80km/2.307m. All other categories totalling 24 can choose either the long or the short distance of 60km/1.785m. The youngest and juniors under 14 taking part in the different categories of the DSB, have a special course reserved in the village centre of Niederdorf.
This edition sees a record number of participants 3741 men and 353 women from 34 nations will be at the start; including a myriad top stars. The start lists are made up of riders from four continents: Europe, North America, South America and Asia. The majority of them, 83% are from Italy, followed by 7% from Germany; Austria, Belgium and Switzerland make up just 2%. Twenty percent of the Italian participation comes from the Trentino Alto Adige region, followed by the provinces of Treviso, Rome, Padua and Bologna. The oldest cyclist is 71 year old Reiner Racek from Germany, and the most senior woman born in 1956 comes from Rome.
Alban Lakata the reigning Vice World Champion and last year’s winner is at the start. The East Tyrolean had to concede defeat at the weekend at the World Championship to the Swiss contender Christoph Sauser who won his third gold medal by 4 seconds. In an exciting final, Sauser defeated the Belgian Roel Paulissen at the World Championship in Niederdorf in 2008, who will also be present. The Dolomiti Superbike winner of 2006 Columbian Hector Leonardo Paez was third in the World Championship, while former European champion Kristian Hynek ranked in fourth behind Paez. Fifth went to Urs Huber of Switzerland the triple winner of the spectacular Dolomites marathon in 2008, 2010 and 2011 and a Bronze Medallist at the World Championship in 2008. Ilias Periklis, the marathon world champion in 2012 was third last year in Niederdorf whereas the German Steffen Thum who won last year’s World Series
In a nutshell, the 19th Dolomiti Superbike will be like a Marathon World Championship re-run while Sauser is off on a free ride tour in Switzerland.
Even the former World Champion Massimo Debertolis has big plans. He has already collected two DSB gold medals in 2009 and 2007, and the Alsatian Thomas Dietsch won in 2003. Marzio Deho the 2005 winner is also registered. He leads the Italian phalanx together with Italian champion Yuri Ragnoli, Tony Longo, Johnny Cattaneo, Daniele Mensi, Samuele Porro, Enrico Franzoi and Hannes Pallhuber. In attendance from Germany are the three-time Cape Epic and Transalp winners Stefan Sahm and Karl Platt. The field of favourites are joined by Lukas Buchli (CH), Søren Nissen (DEN), Jukka Vastaranta (FIN) and the Australian Mike Blewitt.
Amongst the women, is the English woman Sally Bigham in a class of her own. At the World Championships she won silver behind Gunn-Rita Dahle, but Bigham won in Niederdorf in 2012. Katrin Schwing of Germany took victory in the Dolomites in 2009 and secured 2nd in 2011. Marathon champion Daniela Veronesi of Italy was third in 2011 as was Serena Calvetti (2012) in the short distance. To be found alongside the top riders are Anna Ferrari (I), Elena Gaddoni (I), Kerstin Brachtendorf (D), Silke Keinath (D), Verena Krenslehner (AUT), and Lorenza Menapace from Trento.
The statistics are clear: in the top performers list of the Südtirol Dolomiti Superbike, Italy leads with 13 victories. Nine of them go to the men and four of those to the women. In the rankings Switzerland follows with nine and Germany with five. Austrian marathon specialists have won the traditional race three times; while other victories were collected by the athletes from Finland, France, Colombia and the United Kingdom.
With clear weather, a clockwise route and a huge field, the Sudtirol is ready to be set alight this weekend by the World’s XCM Elite.