In just over a week’s time the 2015 edition of the Andalucia Bike Race will begin. Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Cycling Team will be updating MarathonMTB.com throughout the race.
Andalucia Bike Race begins on February 22nd in Jaen and will end six days later in Cordoba. The route will have three stages in Jaen, one in Mancha Real and two in Cordoba, adding up to more than 420 kilometres and climbing more than 13,800 meters.
The event has attracted its biggest field in its 5 year history with 748 participants from 30 different countries taking part in the 2015 edition. Hopefully the Malaga excess baggage security team have purchased a bigger scanner since our last visit, they weren’t too amused in 2013 when a bus load of bike boxes arrived to go through their scanner designed for golf bags…
A highly competitive field of riders will be on the start line ready to fight for the UCI category 1 points. Several world champions, national champions, and well known teams will take part. In the men’s category 2014 winners Markus Kaufmann and Jochen Kass from Centurion Vaude will once again be favorites. Opposition include 2012 winners Jose Antonio Hermida and Rudi Van Houts of Multivan Merida Biking Team. Thomas Litscher and Ondrej Cink also of Multivan Merida will be play their part. Team Bulls make their first visit to the event, entering 2 pairs, Tim Bohme and Simon Stiebjahn, plus Karl Platt and Urs Huber. Topeak Ergon Racing Team return in force with Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek, plus Robert Mennen and new signing Jeremiah Bishop. Another team to watch out in the elite men’s category will be Stöckli, lead by former XCO Under 23 World Champion Mathias Flückiger who will race with Nicola Rohrbach. The New Spanish UCI Elite team Rocks & Co will be launched and compete at Andalucía Bike Race. It will have two elite men teams made up of Carlos Coloma Nicolas and Catriel Soto, and Pablo Rodriguez Guede and Pablo Bravo.
The prize money equity between men and women has been an incentive for the women’s category and has attracted more teams than ever before. One of the strongest women’s team will be Polar-Trek, which will pair up the 2013 XCO World Cup winner Tanja Zakelj, with the winner of the last edition of Andalucía Bike Race, Claudia Galicia Cotrina. Irina Kalentyeva and Michelle Hediger of Mobel Marki – Giant Swiss are ones to watch. Milena Landtwing and Esther Suss of Wheeler Pro Team are our picks for the general classification; although not necessarily the fastest pairing they have the edge when it comes to marathon and stage racing experience.
For the participants the event is a great opportunity to gain some early season form, maybe test themselves before the Cape Epic, grab some UCI world ranking points, and to ride some fantastic trails. Everyone will be hoping for the dry sunny conditions of 2012 rather than the snowy 2013 and wet 2014. Mother Nature decided that stage 4, the Queen Stage of the 2013 Andalucia Bike Race wasn’t quite difficult enough; a dumping of snow on top of the mountains would make things a little more interesting. Stage 5 was even cancelled due to severe weather warnings. Hopefully the organisers have booked sunshine for 2015.
The Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Cycling Team will take 3 people to Spain. I will pair with first year under 23 elite Dylan Kerfoot-Robson. Although a novice in marathon racing Dylan is very familiar with the pressures of racing at World level after regular World Cup and World Championship appearances as a Junior. John Newport, our trusty supporter, friend and photographer will be on hand to keep us moving in the right direction throughout the week. We look forward to bringing you updates throughout the event.