9th Engadin Bike Marathon: the Countdown has started
The end of the winter closure - roads open again for Summer: with the opening of the Forcola di Livigno, the route of the 9th Engadine Bike Marathon is now fully passable one month before the start of the event.
Preparations for the marathon highlight of the summer are now entering their decisive final phase. Perfect summer weather is allowing training in the alpine region, and there are still a small number of starting positions available for the race on the 13th July. "Everything is going to plan" according to Flurin Bezzola, the organizing director of the Engadine Bike Marathon. Amongst the preparations, are the Start and Finish areas in Zernez, the door to the Swiss National Park, where this year the Centenary celebrations of the park will be held. The "Parc Naziunal Svizzer", through which both the 211 klm, and the 97 klm routes of the Engadine Bike Marathon travel, will be 100 years old. "Naturally, we want to join the clebrations" says Bezzola.
Amongst the celebrations in Zernez, a large open air spectacle is planned. With "Laina Viva", drama, comedy, music and various activities will present elements of the history of the founding of the National Park on an open air stage overlooked by the mountains. The premiere of "Laina Viva" will be held on 11th July, just 2 days before the Engadine Bike Marathon, with a total of 16 performances planned. "The entire logistics of the events present quite a challenge", says Bezzola. "But we are working together closely and looking forward to it." There will also be a sporty supporting program to the Engadine Bike Marathon: following the race on the 13th July, the Final of the World Cup will be shown at 9.00pm, live from Brasil, on a large screen in the marquee in the finishing area - and admission is free.
The latest news is that well over 1,000 of the 1,500 available starting positions for the biggest cycling race in Graubunden have been allocated. "Now that all four of the passes in the race are open, and perfect summer training weather has also arrived, the registrations for the race are gaining momentum." says Bezzola. In previous years the event was fully booked. "Whoever wants to participate, should lodge their entry applications now."
The race favourites have registered well before the final month prior to the marathon event. In the Men's category, Michael Kastinger, Klaus Steinkeller, Andreas Ortner and Urs Hintze, the top four from last year's race, are already in the Starting list. As a guide, the top riders will be looking to last year's winning time by Salzburger Kastinger, who set a new course record with a time of 6 hrs:14 mins :00 secs. Amongst others, the Start List for the Ladies includes Monika Dietl, second last year, and Lisa Pleyer, winner of the short course last year.
With the opening of the Forcola di Livigno, the first of the four passes on the route on the marathon, and also the longest closed during the winter, the organizers have been able to complete a full inspection of the course. "It was important for us to have an overview of the course as soon as possible after the opening of the Forcola" said Flurin Bezzola. "In particular, naturally, the condition of the roads. Overall we are very pleased; in some places there is work to be carried out in the coming days, but generally, the surface is good."
The Engadine Bike Marathon, the second event in the "Alpencup" and a race of the "Swiss Cycling Top Tour" the umbrella organization of the biggest and best bike marathons in Switzerland, is, with its spectacular course through the National Park and over four of the most beautiful passes in the Alps, one of the highlights of the marathon season. "Actually there are 4 1/2 passes", explains Flurin Bezzola. "Immediately after the Start, the 1,500 participants head towards the Ofen Pass, but then turn into the tunnel to Livigno (which is reserved exclusively for the racers)." On the outskirts of the Italian duty-free area, the next climb starts for the participants - this time without branching off before the summit of the pass. With the Engadine Bike Marathon's ascents to the Forcola di Livigno, Bernina Pass, Flüela Pass and Albula Pass, the 211 klm long classic marathon climbs a total of 3,827 vertical metres. This makes the race not only the most beautiful, but also the most demanding of the summer's cycling.
The short course of 97 klm with climbs totalling 1,425 vertical metres excludes the loop containing the Fluela and Albula Passes. And even if a participant has to choose between the two courses at the time of registration, "a course change is still possible during the race if necessary due to conditions and weather." says organization chef Bezzola.
At the moment, Start places are still available for both routes. Application is easiest and quickest under www.engadinradmarathon.ch. The starting fee is 59 Euro (CHF 72). Late registration is possible when the capacity of the race has not been reached.