Pleasant temperatures around 20 welcomed the contenders in Siena embedded in Kłodzko County of the Lower Silesian Voivodeship.
The kick-off featured a 14km long prologue starting in Siena and ended up in the nearby Stronie Śląskie. The elevation was rather benign and a sort of warm up for what’s in the pipeline for the coming days.
Given the freshness of the competitors, most of them tried to leave a good note also in order to have a good feeling and sensation for the upcoming days.
It international nature of the race never been more pronounced than this year.
Pau Zamora, “representing” the Spanish contingent consisting of 20 contenders learned about the race by word-of-mouth, and it presents a great opportunity for him to enter terra incognita.
“The first notion is surprisingly good, even though I have high standards. Let’s see what the next stage feature. Some of us are very competitive, albeit we know, ending up on the ranking won’t be a walk in the park… Just look around” pointing to the strong field around.
Joilien Janssen doesn’t have such high aspiration: “ I race with my partner, even though as solo, but for me it is about the journey rather than the outcome”
The complete opposite is true for Declan von Dietze flying over from distant Australia. “ I am enjoying my European 7-week holiday right now. Yeah, I have some expectations, after all I have heard the race is very nice.”
Declan, well-known in Australian marathon scene makes the notion. His ambitions are higher than just being ‘mid-packing’.
“Well I race a lot in Australia, and for sure I am very curious what the Challenge has to offer. We will see what’s look like after the first stage.”
Ivonne Kraft is notoriously known mostly for her fondness of Italian stage races, thus with her endless experience and high hopes one might assume her aspirations are anything but low key. The multiple winner of Rally the Romagna admits however: “Truth be told, since the Rally. I haven’t trained decently at all. Got to say though, the sensation is pretty good and I guess I’ll be doing OK in the race. Let’s see how the legs respond, but for sure, a good result is definitely something I have marked in my agenda. “
The German Markus Beck boasts a considerable track record. His main targeted competitions are alpine stage races famous for high rivalry and level. “This polish race is a kind of unknown to me. But no concerns here, since the echo has been so good. And the bang for the bucks is more than fair. I guess, it’s a great playground for those looking for competitiveness in an untamed terrain. Most of all if you are pretty much fed up cliché-like forest highways in the Alps”
Not only is the racing field a great blend cultural mixture but there are also some rarities to be found. Christoph Hoch form Hamburg earns big kudos for his Single speed Ritchey P 22 rigid fork bravery. His courage to tackle these rough terrain with a machine form the early 90s is unprecedented. After I gave him a brief route run-down he responded with a shrug. “Afraid? No. Maybe I will have to reach for a different gear, but I stay true to my rig. There is barely any terrain this machine couldn’t tackle”
The first ‘real ‘stage waits them with a fascinating combination of gentle double tracks and moderate elevation. It is kind of a prevue of the subsequent days they assure not to be so forgiving. The forecast calls for unstable weather, spicing up the story with intermittent showers which doesn’t bode well for all those that have the broom wagon dictate the tempo. Albeit the first stage won’t give a clear indication of how is the undisputed favorite in the respective categories? The circle of major rivals will be getting clearer.
Full results are listed online.