Photo Epic: UCI Marathon World Championships - Selva Val Gardena, Italy

Jun 27, 2015
by Markus Greber  
Views: 6,517    Faves: 2    Comments: 0


During the First World War, this beautiful area of the Dolomites in Northern Italy, was the most spectacular theater of war. Now, 100 years later, gladiators on two wheels are fighting against minutes and seconds. A perfect setting in the heart of the Dolomites and a super hard course over 87 kilometers and 4700 vertical meters formed a worthy setting for the election of the new World Champions in mountain bike Marathon. Alban Lakata (AUT) and Gunn-Rita Dahle (NOR) are now allowed to wear the rainbow colored jersey of a UCI World Champion.

Both new World Champions more than earned their victories. Alban Lakata led the field from almost the very beginning and extended his advance more and more during the race. His performance was so good, that both strong pursuers, Christopf Sauser from Switzerland and Leonardo Paez had no chance to catch up. 'It was maybe the best race in my career', Lakata declared afterwards.


Early bird. It s five o clock in the morning. Mystic clouds around the famous Langkofel. Silence high up in the mountains. But this will change soon.
  It's an early-bird at five o'clock in the morning. Mystic clouds around the famous Langkofel and silence high up in the mountains. But this will change soon.

The famous course around the Sella Group is known from skiing in winter. Today the area was the place to be for best marathon mountain bikers.
  The famous course around the 'Sella Group' is known from skiing in winter. Today the area was the place to be for best marathon mountain bikers in the world.

Relicts of the horror. 100 Years ago Austrians and Italians were killing each other in exactly that area. The ironic thing The supply trails in world war one are the perfect bike trails nowadays.
  Relicts of the horror. 100 Years ago Austrians and Italians were killing each other in this exact area. The ironic thing: The supply trails from World War One are the perfect bike trails nowadays.

Every rider has his own way to prepare himself before the race. Alban Lakata and his teammate Sally Bigham are preferring the spindle warmup trainer in the early morning hours
  Every rider has his own way to prepare himself before the race. Alban Lakata and his teammate Sally Bigham are preferring the spindle warm up trainer in the early morning hours.

Start of the Elite Women Class.
  Start of the Elite Women class.

Bringing the center of gravity over the handlebar seems to be a good way to be fast Like Gunn-Rita Dahle.
  Bringing the center of gravity over the handlebar seems to be a good way to be fast: Like Gunn-Rita Dahle.

She s fast too Annika Langvad did t brake too much and got 2nd finally.
  She's fast too: Annika Langvad didn't brake too much - and got 2nd in the end.

Like a little folk festival The highest point of Passo Pordoi is the meeting point for cyclists mountaineers motorcyclists and classic car freaks.
  Like a little folk festival: The highest point of 'Passo Pordoi' is the meeting point for cyclists, mountaineers, motorcyclists and classic car freaks.

As said before Passo Pordoi is a meeting point of different freaks. During the Marathon Worlds there was a ferrari event too. Swiss rider Ariane Kleinhans had some opposing traffic.
  As said before: 'Passo Pordoi' is a meeting point for different kinds freaks. During the Marathon Worlds there was a Ferrari event too. Swiss rider Ariane Kleinhans had some opposing traffic.

German s Olympic Star Sabine Spitz seems to have fun on the downhill. She s known for working hard on her technical skills.
  Germany's Olympic Star Sabine Spitz seems to have fun on the downhill. She's known for working hard on her technical skills.

German s colourful marathon pro lady Katrin Schwing on her descent to Corvara.
  Germany's colorful marathon pro lady Katrin Schwing on her descent to Corvara.

Basic equipment for the service teams at the feed zones. 8 opportunities for the teams had on the course to take care of their riders.
  Only basic equipment for the service teams at the feed zones. there were eight opportunities for the teams on the course to take care of their riders.

Perfect spot for spectators Annika Langvad on her way to Passo Pordoi . In the back the scenic rock towers of the Sella .
  A perfect spot for spectators: Annika Langvad on her way to 'Passo Pordoi'. In the back the scenic rock towers of the 'Sella'.

Not the first time Gunn-Rita Dahle and Sabine Spitz posing with their nationality flags.
  Not the first time: Gunn-Rita Dahle and Sabine Spitz pose with their national flags.

Well known names on the women s podium too. Gunn-Rita Dahle from Norway earned her 6th marathon world champion title. Annika Langvad DEN got 2nd in front of Sabine Spitz GER .
  Well known names on the women's podium: Gunn-Rita Dahle from Norway earned her 6th Marathon World Champion title. Annika Langvad (DEN) came in 2nd in front of Sabine Spitz (GER).

Focussing on the next couple of hours. The best long distance mountain bikers of the world.
  Focusing on the next couple of hours. The best long distance mountain bikers of the world.

Start in Selva Gardena. Beginning of a 87 kilometer torture for the Elite men.
  Start in Selva Gardena. This was the beginning of a 87 kilometer's of torture for the Elite men.

Singletrack fun included The course along the Sella Ronda serves tons of sweet trails.
  Singletrack fun included: The course along the 'Sella Ronda' serves tons of sweet trails.

The dolomites for sure are one of the most scenic mountains in the world. To win in an area like this is definitely epic.
  The Dolomites for sure are some of the most scenic mountains in the world. To win in an area like this is definitely epic.

Why is it white and not painted in the team colors of the Topeak Ergon Team Alban Lakata s new Canyon Bike riddles the experts. Also the tube diameters seems thinner and more polygonal than Albans s former bike. A fresh baked super prototype
  Why is it white and not painted in the team colors of the Topeak Ergon Team? Alban Lakata's new Canyon Bike riddles the experts. Also the tube diameters seem thinner and more polygonal than Albans's former bike. A fresh baked super prototype?

Alban Lakata right before the 2nd feed zone.
  Alban Lakata right before the 2nd feed zone.

Christoph Sauser again from behind...
  Christoph Sauser again from behind...

Rush hour at the feed zone some riders are fast going through some are nearly stopping to fill the pockets with food.
  Rush hour at the feed zone - some riders are fast going through, some are nearly stopping to fill their pockets with food.

Nothing is save at that moment Alban Lakata has over a minute advance at Passo Pordoi but you never know.
  Nothing is safe at this moment: Alban Lakata has over a minute advance at 'Passo Pordoi', but you never know.

Hunting on after another Christopf Sauser likes to attack from behind.
  On the hunting for another: Christopf Sauser likes to attack from behind.

For sure that s like a turbo Swiss rider Lukas Buchli surrounded by loud screaming tifosi.
  For sure this is like a turbo boost: Swiss rider Lukas Buchli surrounded by loud screaming Tifosi.

 It s not too late dude German s marathon hero Karl Platt gets motivated by his team mechanic Friedemann Schmude.
  'It's not too late, dude' - Germany's marathon hero Karl Platt gets motivated by his team mechanic Friedemann Schmude.

That must be a great feeling Going through the finish line as a winner after 4 24 hours of pain.
  That must be a great feeling: Going through the finish line as a winner after 4.24 hours of pain.

Emotional Scenery behind the finish line for sure many of the spectators got some goose bumps.
  Emotional scenery behind the finish line - for sure many of the spectators got some goose bumps.

Happy winner Lakata shows his winning machine a mystical white prototype from Canyon.
  Happy winner: Lakata shows his winning machine, a mystical white prototype from Canyon.

Maybe the last media hype around Susi the swiss legend quit his active career.
  Maybe the last media hype around 'Susi' - the swiss legend has retired from his active career.

From the marathon course straight into the hot seat Alban Lakata was celebrated like a Rockstar.
  From the marathon course straight into the hot seat: Alban Lakata was celebrated like a Rockstar.

Italians know how to celebrate heroes - spectacular show after the finish line.
  Italians know how to celebrate heroes - there was a spectacular show after the finish line.

Many times world champion Christopf Sauser with a smile in his face after the race. He got 2nd but for sure he was hoping for more. With this race he finished his racing career.
  Many time World Champion Christopf Sauser with a smile on his face after the race. He got 2nd, but for sure he was hoping for more. With this race he finished his racing career.

Proud gold medallist..
  Proud gold medalist...

Award ceremony men Alban Lakata Team Topeak Ergon is the new world champion. Legendry swiss rider Christoph Sauser made got 2nd and Leonardo Paez from Columbia got 3rd.
  Award ceremony men: Alban Lakata (Team Topeak/Ergon) is the new world champion. Legendry swiss rider Christoph Sauser made got 2nd and Leonardo Paez from Columbia got 3rd.

Asti Spumante instead of Chamagner Who knows..
  Asti Spumante instead of Champagne? Who knows...

The fastest long distance mountain bikers in the world Alban Lakata Christopf Sauser and Leonardo Paez.
  The fastest long distance mountain bikers in the world: Alban Lakata, Christopf Sauser and Leonardo Paez.

Photos and words: Markus Greber


49 Comments

  • 68 2
 Downhill is rad, XC is intense, Enduro is awesome, 4x is cool, but marathon riders have my greatest respect.
  • 11 1
 After doing the math I have to say the same. 15k+ feet of climbing over 54 miles is seriously amazing to me. I'm on a Kona Process 153, and my biggest day has been about 30 miles and 3500 feet of climbing and I was wiped out. I consider myself to be a pretty decent rider in good shape. These guys are unreal!
  • 6 0
 Yeah, 15k vert is insane.
  • 6 0
 15k vert, and the climbs are where the races are won.
  • 4 6
 Crazy amount of climbing but it does look somewhat a "Gravel" route. Maybe the correct term for smooth MTB is Gnarmac?

I love XCM but I would love to see these races more technical, perhaps even a little longer. As I said, crazy amount of climbing but to win in 4.5 hours isn't sooo "Marathon". For perspective, that would qualify as a shorter stage in a Grand Tour... just one day in a month of racing. I am a huge fan of what WEMBO have been doing and the guys and gals racing 24 hours are flippin' nutters. Something between the two would be awesome
  • 7 0
 Honestly I think every "good shape" rider can reach the 10k+ elevation on a day trip.
15k+ and 85km in less than 5 hour? That's another story.
  • 2 0
 @BeardlessMarinRider I've been there and did the Selaronda Hero course as a one day Tour (in about 9 hours), and the trails and downhill sections are far from smooth. I wouldn't want to ride a light marathon bike there... i was pretty busy even on my enduro!
  • 26 1
 Columbia ≠ Colombia
  • 15 0
 hey great pics and XC coverage, thanks PinkBike!!
  • 8 1
 Man, seems like every second yokels got one of them inverted rockshox forks eh?
  • 3 0
 Sponsorship... I don't really understand it for this race though, the RS1 isn't the lightest fork around.
  • 8 1
 Well nobody went out and bought one, so may as well offload all that overstock onto the pros.
  • 3 1
 ^^^^ and you know this because you work for SRAM?
  • 11 0
 In a marathon race, lightness isn't the #1 priority in the bike. It's still very, very important, but when the race lasts 87km, the riders are on there for hours at a time, and as such, the bike needs to be tougher and with a greater emphasis on rider comfort and fatigue reduction. The RS1 is supposed to have better dampening than the SID, better small bump compliance, and a more plush stroke, which makes it a better choice than the stiffer SID, which is better suited to hardcore hammering for a shorter amount of time.

Look at the bikes here: they look...normal. They're not ultra stripped down like normal XC race bikes, their tires have more tread, the brakes have bigger rotors, pedals have a bit of a cage or platform around them for greater foot support, many of them are running with bar ends or more ergonomic grips, stems aren't at -45 degrees. These bikes are built for a different purpose: XC yes, but a different kind of XC.
  • 2 0
 So why no full suspension? It doesn't add much weight and adds a ton of comfort. I'd definitely be on full squish for marathon racing (though perhaps only one bottle would be an issue).
  • 2 0
 @grgsmith some of them are using full suspension bikes.
  • 12 4
 Those mountains doe
  • 6 0
 Gunn-Rita is on such good form this year, awesome. Cool seeing Spitz up there too!
  • 6 2
 Greek 2012 Marathon World Champion Periklis Ilias, finished 4th [Time - 4:29.19,4], and there is no mention about him, not a photo, nothing...mates Greece is only exiting Europe, not the World!
  • 3 0
 There's at least one picture of him. The one with "Italians know how to celebrate heroes - there was a spectacular show after the finish line." as caption. The dude in the Greek national kit, ENVE M50s with RaceKings on a RS-1.
  • 3 0
 No mention of no 4 in the womens either.

I'm just stoked for Gunn Rita tho. Oh, and yeah: Missing links to full resluts and times in the article...
  • 2 0
 Yep thanks mate, you are right! My eyes are not what they used to be hehe!
  • 3 0
 Welcome!
  • 5 0
 That's a sweet looking bike he won on too! Seamless white paint between headtube and inverted forks crown and black stanchions on the bottom makes it look so clean...
  • 4 0
 Great coverage and amazing athletes, its awesome what these guys (and girls) achieve
  • 1 0
 This is first a great people's event! Of the >4.000 people taking part, just a small percentage is pro.

Why nearly no mention of this in the article? Plenty of guys on full sus bikes and backpack full of sandwiches, which are the true heroes, doing the course in over 8hrs!

Sure the pros get the coverage, but Sellaronda Hero is at first a huge MTB meeting for bikers!
  • 3 0
 I see quite a few hardtails... Men's 1st and 2nd... Type of course, that the reason?
  • 2 0
 7th pic from the bottom:

"So Alban, how does it feel to win the UCI Marathon World Championships?!"

"Can you repeat the question please, I can't hear you past my quads?"
  • 2 0
 you sure those bar ends are legal Wink
  • 3 1
 Bar ends seem a hell of a lot more dangerous to me than having a GoPro on top of my helmet for a race run! WTF UCI?!
  • 2 1
 Great photos, how come there's no video?
  • 2 0
 Besides the video at the top of the article? Smile

Great coverage, thanks PB!
  • 2 1
 It wasn't posted at the time of his comment.
  • 2 0
 Hhhmmmmm Stradale......
  • 2 1
 Dope race!
  • 1 0
 Very good
  • 2 3
 why do the top xc men shave their legs?
  • 1 0
 exactly for the reason that top roadies do..
  • 9 0
 calves look better
  • 8 0
 Massage. These guys get frequent massages. Try getting a vigorous leg massage with hairy legs, with three more lined up for the week, and you'll start shaving, too.
  • 3 2
 Average speed for this race was probably well over 20kph so aero does matter in places.
  • 5 0
 Massage and easier to treat grazes.
  • 4 3
 I used to race road (yeah, I know) and no one was shaving their legs for the aero advantage. There's no proof it provides any. It's mostly done for vanity and to show people you are a "serious bike rider" in the amateur ranks. There are some claims about it helping with road rash but I've had road rash with shaved and unshaved legs and didn't notice a difference. So basically it's a dumb vanity thing but mountain biking has plenty of those as well.
  • 2 1
 ^^^I just wanted to hear it from someone else Razz I did it for a while when I was a 'serious' runner. Felt like shit! lol
  • 8 0
 ^ Spesh have a video showing that the aero difference with shaved legs is pretty much the same speed gain as buying the latest £11,000 aero bike vs "normal bike"

www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZnrE17Jg3I
  • 1 0
 For me it is about changing bandages. I only shave during race season when I am more likely to crash.
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