Sauser and Yamamoto among favorites for Brasil Ride

The fourth edition of the Brasil Ride mountain bike stage race starts today in the Chapada Diamantina, State of Bahia in Brasil. Racers will cover 565km during seven days, including 12,240m of climbing.

Current marathon world champion and three-time Cape Epic champion Christoph Sauser heads the list of starters along with his teammate Kohei Yamamoto, the recent winner of the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge.

They will be challenged by Luis Leao Pinto & Abraao Azevedo (Viana do Castelo), Bart Brentjens & Paulo Fritas (Brentjens MTB Team), Hans Becking & Jiri Novak (Superior-Brentjens MTB Team), Steffen Thum & Simon Gegenheimer (Ultra Sports Rose Racing Team) and Roel Paulissen & Johann Pallhuber (RH

In the women's race, Rebecca Rusch & Selene Yeager (Specailized/Team CF) are among the favorites.

Mateus Ferraz & Ivonne Kraft and Annabella Stropparo & Piero Pellegrini will be among those to watch in the mixed category.

This year, the Brasil Ride is running as a categorized as a UCI S2 stage race. Nearly 70 percent of the race's trails are new for 2013, but organizers are keeping classic stages, like the day 1 prologue around the city of Mucuge and the day 3 cross country in the city of Rio de Contas.

The last stage of the race, which will cover 68km, will double as the Bahia state marathon championships.

Brasil Ride also attracts famous amateur competitors. South African Songo Fipaza, founder of the charity with Sauser, will ride with Helen Kinuthia, an athlete and cycling activist from Kenya. She runs two social projects focused on introducing and developing the cycling culture in her country.

On the Brazilian side, two big names in Brazilian motorsport, former Formula-1 driver Christian Fittipaldi and Formula Truck driver, Geraldo Piquet will also compete together.

The race is part of a movement to support and grow elite-level cycling in Brasil.

"The Brasil Ride aims to support the development of Brazilian Olympic sport and to promote the 2016 Olympic Games by attracting Olympic-level riders," said Mario Roma, founder of Brasil Ride.

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