A record number of participants has signed up for the 13th annual Alpentour Trophy, which kicks off on Thursday in the Schladming-Dachstein region of Austria.
Organisers had expected 250 - 300 participants; however, 332 riders from 24 countries have registered. "We've exceeded our goals by far," said the visibly content promoter Gerhard Schönbacher. "Both thequantity and quality of riders in the starting field is outstanding."
In fact, the list of registered riders, reads like a who's who of endurance mountain biking. Olympic Champion Bart Brentjens, Ralph Näf, Luis Leao Pinto and last year's winner Uwe Hochenwarter are among the favorites in the men's race. Daniel Federspiel and Mauro Bettin are also among those to watch. Snowboard world champion Benjamin Karl will hop onboard a bike and compete.
The women's race features European Champion Katrin Leumann, World Cup Racer Mary McConneloug, road racer Annika Schirmer and Crocodile Trophy hero Monique Zeldenrust.
The Alpentour Trophy is categorized as a UCI S1, just one of four such races worldwide.
The stage race goes through the well known ski region of Schladming-Dachstein, Ramsau, Reiteralm and Haus/Ennstal. Riders will compete solo and in teams
The race will kick off at 10:00 am on Thursday, June 2 in the town center of Schladming. According to the schedule there will be four challenging stages over 220km. A new race feature has been added, which will be an individual time trial onto the Planai (Schafalm) on the third day. All other stages will finish where they started: right on the main square in Schladming.
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