While Northern Europe shivers with temperatures below zero, Europe's mountain bikers are planning to warmer regions: to Gran Canaria for instance, where the preparations for the Gran Canaria Open, the island's second mountain bike marathon on March 18, are up to speed.
Race organiser Petra Wonisch says she already has five times as many entries as this time last year 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," Wonisch said. "That people are travelling so far to participate in our event makes us proud. 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."
Courses for the event are reportedly tough but doable. Trek rider Katrin Schwing says she likes the route because it's "technically very demanding," while course designer and MTB guide Philipp Foltz (Atlantic Cycling) describes the 38km short course as "easy to accomplish."
The long course will be harder though. "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," says Foltz. "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 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."
For more information see www.canary-bike.com.