Words: Appeninica MTB Stage Race
German Felix Fritzsch won the opening of the Appeninica MTB Stage Race, ahead of big names such as Ilias Periklis and Bart Classens. Virginia Cancellieri was the first Italian to win an Appenninica stage in the “solo” category
Appenninica MTB Stage Race 2021 delivered a surprising opening on Sunday, September 12th, in the individual time trial in Porretta Terme (40 km and 1600 metres of elevation gain). The best time was set by German Felix Fritzsch, the only athlete to beat the 2-hour limit with a 1:58:59 time. The rider of the RSG 52 Stolberg team surprised all the most valued opponents, confirming a special feeling with the Emilia-Romagna Apennines after the victory at the Rally di Romagna in 2018, and having finished last May’s edition in fourth place.
Two riders among the favourites, Ilias Periklis (DMT Racing Team) and Bart Classens (MTB Club Licht Verzet) completed the podium with 3:05 and 3:59 delays. respectively. After last year’s crash in the second stage, which ended his experience at Appenninica, Fritzsch came back aiming at finishing the race. Fate gave him an immediate thrill: he’s the first leader of the 2021 edition.
“I’m definitely surprised, I didn’t realise I went this fast but I’m excited for the win – admitted the German rider at the finish line -. I hope I can defend the lead, but I’ll be thinking day by day. Today’s course was very demanding, with a tough climb and several singletrack sections on the descent. Definitely a good start, let’s see what happens in the next days“.
In the women’s category, the first day marked a first time as Virginia Cancellieri became the first Italian woman ever to win a stage at Appenninica MTB in the solo formula. The Orbea Factory Team rider came to the Apennine to enjoy the race and have fun in the wonderful landscapes of the area, but she started strong and she’s going to play her cards until the end.
Cancellieri covered the 40-km distance of the TT opening stage in 2:31:08, with a 1:05 advantage over German Naima Daisner (Tuspo Weemde) and 12:33 over Austrian Evelyn Sulzer. This trio likely includes the final winner, also given the last-minute forfeit of ultra cyclist Elena Novikova, due to physical issues.
“I really liked the course, it reminded me of my home paths in Liguria – commented the Italian after the finish line – I came here to have fun after a very busy month, to set my mind off and to just enjoy the race. I will keep riding this way even after today’s success, but I can’t hide I’m very proud of the result and of being able to wear the leader jersey tomorrow”.