Trans Andes kicks off in Chile

The third annual Trans Andes Challenge, with 130 racers from 18 different countries, kicked off today, Monday, January 24, in Chile. For six days and 450km, racers are competing among the beautiful landscapes of the Patagonian Andes Mountain Range.

The race started approximately 1,000km south of Santiago at the Huilo Huilo Reserve on Monday morning. The opening stage included a transition over a ferry, which took all the riders across the Pirihueico Lake. The race will finish at Pucón on Saturday, January 29.

The Trans Andes Challenge has attracted several international stars including Andreas Hestler, Mary McConneloug, Michael Broderick, Jason Sager, Ben Sonntag, Blake Harlan, Marty Lazarski, Neil Kindree, Eva Lechner and Nathalie Schneitter, to name a few.

When asked about the early season adventure, Hestler expressed sentiments representative of many of the foreign competitors from the northern hemisphere. "Well it's 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) at home in North Vancouver, and summer in Chile is approximately 27 degrees C (80 degrees F). Why wouldn't I be there? This is a great opportunity to travel, see an amazing country, do an amazing event and get some early season miles in."

The race is organized by Juan Pablo Santiagos, a former downhill World Cup racer.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for coverage of the 2011 Trans Andes Challenge.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.