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Südtirol Sellaronda HERO - Last Test Ahead of the World Championships
This year, the Südtirol Sellaronda HERO will take place on Saturday, June 22nd. For the first time, the Mountain Bike Marathon in the Dolomites will be part of the UCI Marathon World Series. The course covers 84 km in length and 4,300 m in elevation gain for the men and 62 km and 3,300 m, respectively, for the women. 3013 participants from 30 nations are expected for the racing weekend in Val Gardena/Gröden, including several world class racers.
The Südtirol Sellaronda HERO is one of the toughest and most spectacular of the international marathons. This year it is of crucial importance, as it is the last marathon ahead of the World Championships. These are taking place one week later in Kirchberg in Tyrol which is why the long distance race in the Dolomites is a welcome but hard test for many pro athletes.
The biggest challenges of the HERO are its length and elevation gain. The 84 km in length and 4,300 m in elevation gain make it one of the toughest MTB marathons in the world: "We have made a few changes to the track to adapt it to the requirements set by the international Cycling Union" says Race Director Peter Runggaldier, adding: "The course was extended by 2 km which also added another 150 m in elevation gain to the track". The new section was incorporated in the downhill from the Campolongo Pass to Arabba. A total of 87% of the course is single trail, paths or fire roads, the rest is on paved roads.
"The course is right up my alley" says 2012 World Series winner Steffen Thum from Germany. "One has to earn every meter on the Sellaronda HERO as there is almost no slipstream". Last year's winner Leonardo Paez from Colombia adds: "You win the Hero on the uphill by being better than anyone else".
The short course of 52 km and 2800 m elevation gain was extended by 10 km to qualify the course for the Marathon Series. It now measures 62 km and offers an elevation gain of 3300 m. This is 700 m more than in years past.
"Climbing is my passion" says Sally Bigham, 2012 Marathon World Series winner, adding: "And climbing in the Dolomites is my idea of heaven! I love the spectacular mountain vistas and breathing the mountain air".
The MTB long distance race covers all four valleys in the Dolomites around the Sella massif: Val Gardena/, Alta Badia, Arabba, Val di Fassa and Alpe di Siusi. "There is still lots of snow on the track" says Mr. Runggaldier, continuing: "We have to wait for it to melt in order to start preparations on the course".
The most successful racer so far in the South Tyrol Sellaronda HERO is Katrin Schwing. The 41-year-old from Germany won twice (2012 and 2011).
The first edition of the women's race in 2010 was won by Anna Ferrari from Italy.