There’s a new kid on the block in the world of mountain bike stage races. This new 8 day stage race is held within the beautiful Emilia Romagna region in Italy. Running from 20-27 July, the race will cover 550km and 20000m of climbing. If you are familiar with other major mountain bike stage races like the Cape Epic, The Pioneer, Joberg2c and more – you’ll know that this is a whole lot of climbing. The race organisers haven’t planned a gentle stroll through the hills – they have created a demanding mountain bike test piece! The 8-day stage race is for teams of two or solo riders, but the 4-day option is for solo riders. There is a limit of 150 teams for the race in 2019.
The route for Appenninica MTB
The race starts in Bologna with a Prologue, before starting the first stage in Berceto and finally finishing in Bagno di Romagna. It’s not strictly point to point, with a couple of days that don’t require you to pack up and leave, but still plenty of times where you ride to a new town in the region.
Prologue | 12.7km | 470m climbing
Starting and finishing in Bologna, the route tackles the climb to the Sanctuary of the Madonna di San Luca and the Colle Della Guardia. There is a mix of surfaces from road to singletrack.
Stage 1 | 80km | 3400m climbing
Stage 1 starts in Berceto and finishes in Castelnovo ne Monti, and takes you by 6 lakes and along forested ridges, through chestnut groves, and offers glimpses down the Tuscan valleys.
Stage 2 | 110km | 3500m climbing
Another stage with over 3000m of climbing, as you leave Castelnovo ne’ Monti and head to Fanano. Much of the day is spent in the shadow of Pietra di Bismantova. The biggest climb of the day comes at the end, with a rewarding and a technical descent to the finish.
Stage 3 | 55km | 2100m climbing
All you really need to know about this stage is the fact that you finish in Porretta Terme, a spa town dating back to the Roman Empire. There are steep climbs, views to the ocean and forested trails. But no matter how you are feeling up to this point, rest assured that a soak in some thermal waters will help get you back on track for day 5.
Stage 4 | 23km | 830m climbing
This is a rest day! Ok not quite, but with a very light route that starts and finishes in the Porretta Terme spa town, this will be a great day to relax post-stage and recharge for the final 3 stages. The route has a gentle climb under forest cover before a technical descent.
Stage 5 | 90km | 2300m climbing
Well let’s hope you took advantage of a pamper and relax package in Porretta Terme, today you race to Castel del Rio, tracing the route of the Gothic Line – one of the most important German defensive lines in WW2. The final descent is below chestnut trees to the fortified town.
Stage 6 | 112km | 4000m climbing
Clearly, this is the Queen stage. It’s long, it has lots of climbing, and the arrival in Bagno di Romagna will have to be fought for, with big climbs in the 2nd half of the stage. But the route is not without reward. The final climbs are harder than the rolling climbs in the first half, but you end up in the National Park of the Casentinese Forests. You follow ancient paths through historic woodlands and the final challenges on the technical descent make the finish even sweeter.
Stage 7 | 40km | 1650m climbing
The final stage is here! It’s short but sweet, starting and finishing in the town of Bagno di Romagna. The route ascends to Beech forests and the Mandrioli Pass, for tight and twisty singletrack between the trees. The final descent will not be without challenges, and the best reward will be crossing the finish line having completed one of the most challenging mountain bike stage races.
This looks to be a demanding and beautiful route – but if 8 days is just too much, there is a 4 day option for solo riders. Their race would start in Porretta Terme, and they would stay with the race to the finish. So if you don’t feel you are ready for an 8-day mountain bike race, or can’t find a suitable team mate, there is still a way to experience the area and the race. A solo rider can also choose to do the 8 days in the Appennine Only race.
The route is mostly determined, but will still be adapted before the race in July. We suspect perhaps some of the climbing is optimistic but you know, there are plenty of hills to climb in Italy so it might all be true!
The towns in the Appenninica MTB Race
As for any mountain bike stage race, much of the experience comes from the locations. And the towns of the race have been chosen for that reason. Whether it is for their culinary culture, spas, views or rich history. You can preview all the towns on the event website.
Breakfast and dinner are included in the race entry and lunch is served in the host town at the end of each stage. Included accommodation with the event entry is in tents or town buildings like a sports hall. But, you could take out the extra hotel package if you choose to. There are further extras packages such as transfers, massage and photo packs.
What does it cost?
A standard team entry is 2900 Euro, and this covers the athlete camp, the provided meals, baggage transport and so on. Massage, transfers and accommodation before the prologue and after the final stage need to be organised individually – or via the hotel booking service.
As a nod toward the lower numbers of participation, women’s teams entering the race get a substantial discount, paying just 1900 Euro for a women’s team. The solo race costs 1450 Euro or just 725 Euro for the 4-day option. More details for registration are online.
Why should I race the Appenninica MTB Stage Race?
This is the first year of the race and that means it is easy to be suspect and wonder what the race will offer. The other side is that the first year can offer the best experiences, with smaller numbers making for a very involved experience, leaving you not just with new memories but new friends too.
With a race organisation that is so engaged with the communities and region, and extensive route planning and testing already done, the aim is to make this race a true challenge and a bucket list event. That’s something many people would like to be a part of. Throw in good food and history on a unique route that moves beyond some of the typical stage race terrain in Europe, and this is one very attractive proposition. Have yo done TransAlp, Swiss Epic, Sudety MTB Challenge, Cape Epic, Alps Epic? Well – maybe it’s time to look further south. We think this one will become a classic.