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European MTB Champs - One Week to Go!!

06/06/2014
European MTB Champs - One Week to Go!!

European Marathon Mountain bike Championships 2014 - On Saturday the 14th and Sunday the 15th the hills of Ballyhoura Mountain Bike centre, County Limerick, will echo with the sound of the worlds finest mountain bikers.  Sunday is for the professionals, in the hunt for the European Marathon Mountain Bike title.  Saturday is for the amateurs with a challenging course that will test the riders to the limit.

 

Lining up on Sunday the 15th will be Defending European Marathon champion and former World Marathon Champion Alban Lakata of Austria. Beside him will be Jaroslav Kulhavý from the Czech Republic, current Olympic champion at the shorter cross country race format.  With a second place at the Marathon World Championships in 2011, he can ride the longer races too.  Kulhavý will be joined by teammate Christoph Sauser from Switzerland, himself a former 2 time World Marathon Champion and World Champion cross country rider.  Sauser, is a formidable rider with a serious pedigree and comes into the race as one of the hot favourites.  Dutch legend Bas Peters, the German Bulls team, UK champion Sally Bingham and our own 2013 Irish National Champion Jenny Fay are also set to start.  

 

Irish International road rider and National Road Champion Mel Spath will line up along with a full domestic field including her husband Ryan Sherlock, thankfully recovered from a bad crash at the Rás a few weeks ago. Up and coming riders Leah and Jonathan Maunsell, who ride with the local club Team Ballyhoura, will be present. The duo race multiple mountain bike disciplines and Irish development squad rider Leah Maunsell is making waves, competing at senior level in Enduro mountain bike racing where she is a regular on the podium, despite being only sixteen years old. Brother Jonathan raced the Enduro World Series event last weekend in Scotland.  Leading the Irish charge will be 20 time Irish National Cross Country champion Robin Seymour.  The Wicklow rider and multiple Olympian seems to be getting better and better with age and is highly rated for his technical prowess in particular.

 

This is the first time Ireland has hosted an official UCI Championship mountain bike event and is the culmination of many months hard work.  The course has been specially curated with spectators in mind and includes four loops from the event village designed to give maximum exposure to the athletes.  The event village itself will be a welcome place to hang out with local food producers exhibiting along with a bouncy castle for the future stars of the sport.  Admission to the venue is free for spectators who can expect to see the World’s best take to the trails for the honour of being crowned European Champion.

 

Marathon mountain bike racing is an endurance sport, typically taking place over a cross country off-road course of approximately 100 kilometres. The male and female champions get to wear a special European Champion jersey for the following year when competing in Marathon races as well as taking the honour of being the best on the continent.

However this race is about much more than just the professionals. Saturday's support races are open for all and categorized into Expert, Masters, Vet and Classic Vet and feature a course of 75 kilometres and 1925 metres of climbing. There is also a Junior and Fun race over 23kms on exciting trails. The main event on Sunday 15th sees the Elite Men tackle a course of 93km with 2199 metres of climbing while the Elite Women's field take on a course of 75km and 1925 metres of height gain. Riders set off in a mass start with the first to cross the finish line being crowned the European Champion.

 

Irish rider Ryan Sherlock is well versed in the Ballyhoura trails and told us of his excitement at the race being held in Ireland.  

 

‘I have been riding and racing in Ballyhoura for many years now and when I heard that the European MTB Marathon Championships would be making a stop there in 2014 I was very excited. In 2013, the Irish MTB Marathon Championships were held on the course and I got a first hand experience of how it will be in June - the race organisation, the facilities and the course are world class, it is going to supply a very worthing male and female Champion. I real all round performer.

 

The course itself, it is so much fun to ride, there is so much fast swooping singletrack that you almost look forward to the fireroads trails just to let your mind relax a moment - more than 50% of your time will be spent swooping left and right. With the temperamental weather we can experience in Ireland, the course itself is designed so that rain or sun doesn't change the track very much. Having raced in pouring rain, and blazing sun on it, it only makes a very small little difference to the speed. The only word of warning I have - watch out for the pointy rocks!’

 

Designed in a clover leaf, the course is both great for competitors but also spectators who can get to see the riders three times through the start/finish area despite them only doing one lap and several times out on the tight technical singletrack. The course is a mix of wide forest roads, trail centre single-track and natural technical features embedded in some of the most picturesque countryside that Ireland has to offer.

 

The event is being assisted by Ballyhoura Failte and Coillte and forms part of the Limerick City of Culture festivities.

Registration is open and costs €40 with registration closing on the 12th of June at 13.00.

 

It’s not all about the racing though. On race days a food village will be set up beside the start/finish displaying local food producers products. The Rocky Mayhem Music Festival is on in Kilfinane village from Thursday the 12th of June until Sunday the 15th. The Saturday night line up includes The Frank and Walters, O Emperor, New Windings, with DJ JP Dillon from Limerick 95FM, ensuring competitors and spectators can enjoy a full weekend of activity.

 

For further queries contact info@biking.ie or 083-4173899. The official website is www.euromarathonchamps.com. Media accreditation can be applied for on the event website in the relevant section.

 

The Rocky Mayhem Music Festival takes place the same weekend as the event in nearby Kilfinane village. No stranger to MTB events, Kilfinane has hosted the Single Speed World Championships in 2011 and the International Bluegrass Enduro Tour in 2013 as well as numerous domestic races in cross country (XCO), Enduro and Marathon including the Irish National Marathon Championships in 2013.

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