In 2015 the Sellaronda Hero is the home for the Cross-Country Marathon (XCM) Mountain Bike World Championships. After a foray into South Africa last year, the XCm Worlds return to Europe, and visit the Dolomites.
As a young event, the Sellaronda Hero has quickly grown in stature due to impeccable organisation, a stunning route, and near brutal difficulty.
At the end of June, over 4000 marathon mountain bikers will arrive in the Val Gardena in the Sudtirol, ready for the challenge. The best marathon racers from around the globe will also be vying for the rainbow stripes. The men will tackle an 87km course with an epic 4700m of climbing.
The women have a shorter, but no less arduous route at 60km and 3400m.
Both routes start and finish in the Val Gardena. At around 1500m high, altitude will play a factor for those racing. But the real difficulty is the gradient of the climbs, and descents. To get that amount of climbing in those distances, the gradients up and down are very steep. Compared to many European marathon events, there is a high proportion of singletrack… which is also steep.
It’s a taxing route. The first climb is very steep, and sustained. If you push too hard at this point it will be very difficult to recover. While the next two climbs aren’t as steep, the climb out of Canazei is very long, and will wear riders down, especially if they haven’t been paying attention to their nutrition.
Notably, previous winners are small riders who are excellent climbers. It remains to be seen whether Sally Bigham and Leonardo Paez add to their victories with World Championship Titles.