February 4, 2006 — While Northern Europe shivers with temperatures below zero, Europe’s mountain bike elite has escaped to warmer regions, to Gran Canaria for instance. There, the preparations for the Gran Canaria Open, the island’s second mountain bike marathon on March 18th, are up to speed.
Race organiser Petra Wonisch has already five times as many entries as last year around this time and is thrilled about the positive response from around the world. “Norwegian and Swedish pro teams have entered the race as well as riders from Belgium, France, the UK and even the United States. That people are travelling so far to participate in our event makes us proud”, she says. “But we also have a lot of mountain bikers from Bavaria and Austria who want to capitalise on the early opener of their local marathon series. Many of the other race organisers will come to Gran Canaria to celebrate the start of the new mountain bike season with us. Here we will combine Bavarian-Austrian sportsmanship with the Canary groove.”
Technically demanding route
Katrin Schwing (TREK) who currently trains on Gran Canaria and enjoys the comfort of the new mountain bike partner hotel Dunas Vital Suite, has already tested the new route and is rapt. “I like it, because it is technically very demanding”, she says.
MTB guide and test rider Philipp Foltz (Atlantic Cycling), who helped designing the new course, believes that this year’s marathon will be a real challenge. “žThe small lap with 38 kilometres and 800 vertical metres is easy to accomplish”, he says. “žBut those who take the turn for the big round will face a 15 minute hike a bike section before they get to
a tough uphill. The technical single trail eventually passes into a gravel road which leads to the highest point at 1300 metres. The descent is a great mix of challenging trails, tar sections, gravel roads and sharp counter slopes on which the race will most likely be decided. To make a long story short: the route is very diverse and demanding. Riders are most of the time off-road and can look forward to stunning single trails and amazing views. To win the Gran Canaria Open you have to be a complete rider who has enough reserves to master the many counter slopes in the end.”
Professionel training camp from March 12th until March 19th
Freemotion and Happy Biking, the two local bike stations on Gran Canaria, both offer a special training camp to prepare for the marathon. Freemotion’s training week is headed by German marathon pro rider Tobias Heimkreitner and includes seminars and workshops on training guidelines, bike tuning, and race preparation. Prospects should hurry since participation is limited. (www.free-motion.net).
Happy Biking also gets mountain bikers ready for the up-coming marathon by riding parts of the original route and giving useful tips on riding technique and how to quickly fix defects. (www.happy-biking.com)
Marathon plus 1 week accommodation starting at 199 Euros
Tourism expert and marathon organiser Petra Wonisch and Gran Canaria’s bike hoteliers have prepared a great marathon-training week-package for the participants. For example, one week accommodation in a bungalow (triple occupancy) is available for 199 Euros per person including transfers and entry fee (excl. flight); one week at a 4 star hotel (double occupancy) including half board, transfers and entry fee costs 399 Euros (excl. flight). Event partner LTU (www.ltu.de) offers low priced flights to Gran Canaria from all over Germany and Vienna.
Room mate exchange
For all mountain bikers who travel without companion to Gran Canaria and who would like to save the surcharge for a single room, Petra Wonisch has set up a room mate exchange. Those who are looking for a “˜room mate’ to stay in a double room, can contact Petra at email@example.com.
3000 Euros prize money
The entry fee for the marathon is 39 Euros, for the semi marathon 29 Euros. Hitting the gas in the first race of the season will pay off, because the winners will not only get valuable points for the Austrian and Bavarian TREK Mountainbike Challenge race series, but also a total prize purse of 3000 Euros as well as hotel vouchers, plane tickets and great material prizes.