The 2024 4Islands MTB Croatia features an exciting update! We've changed the order of the islands to maximise your experience on the bike; this new order means exciting updates and alterations to the route. Think all the best from the years before but with more exciting trails, more challenges, more views, and more chances to Conquer the Rocks. In 2024, we'll visit Krk, Cres, Lošinj, and finish the adventure on Rab.
16 APRIL 2024
Short and Salty
The 2024 4Islands Prologue is short but it is dynamic as it crams in many different surfaces that you’ll need to deal with in its 12 kilometres. The first of which is the pebble beach which varies in depth and difficulty – our advice: find the path of least resistance as soon as you can and go go go. Then the hills arrive. The first loop of the Prologue takes teams away from the beach along a coastal cliffside offering incredible views of the blue Adriatic Sea. But, don’t be lured into gazing over the water for too long as the trail requires focus to avoid mistakes and to maintain speed.
The route then heads inland to the highest point of the stage where incredible views over Baška Bay are on offer, followed by a fast downhill back towards the sea. Teams then head into the Baška backcountry where the technical riding lowers, but the steep climbs increase, fortunately they’re mostly on tarmac. Once teams have reached church and cemetery, the trail riding recommences but it's unlike any 4Islands before and features more dirt, more roots, and more fun – especially the downhills!
Once back at sea level, the final three kilometres are packed with twists and turns as teams race back to Baška to kick back and watch the other teams roll down the start ramp or sprint for positions ahead of Stage 1. The Prologue is the perfect introduction to the riding on offer in Croatia and gives teams a glimpse of what’s to come on the island adventure.
17 APRIL 2024
I'm a rock-it man
The opening kilometres of Stage 1 skirt the Adriatic Sea through the seaside town and show off the town to its fullest, but after a few short kilometres the climbing begins, and teams leave the coast behind them as they head towards the Moon Plateau. The climb begins on tar before turning into wooded singletrack that switches back on itself several times and heads endlessly upwards.
Once in the Moon Plateau, it’s as if teams have entered an entirely new world of open plains littered with rocks, often blasted by the famed winds of the Adriatic. This is where those who have packed their racing legs can make up any lost time thanks to the rolling hills and open, but stony, roads as the race heads toward Vrbnik.
The race continues northward towards Riska and Klimno where narrow streets, singletracks and coastal riding are set to thrill and delight before the long and steep climb to the Dobrinj stretches limits. Once summited, the second waterpoint awaits, filled to the brim with food and nutrition to get you through the remaining kilometres. Several short surprises follow, as well as the longest downhill trail of the entire route before waterpoint 3 where the final refuel of the day takes place.
Teams will need to dig deep on the tracks and trails in the canyon before encountering the final kilometres of the stage. The final 10 kilometres are mostly downhill and flat and surrounded by meadows and the resident sheep, offering a tranquil finish the first stage of the 2024 4Islands MTB Croatia.
18 APRIL 2024
Stage 2 boasts a redesigned route on Cres but still has the famous ferry-based start in the port of Merag.
Once the thunderous horn of the ferry has sounded, the race is on, and teams will immediately encounter a steep climb out of the port. As hearts pound and swear words are muttered, the climb ends and a brand-new section that keeps teams at altitude awaits; now is the time to get heart rates under control, take in the views of the city of Cres and its bay before a truly 4Islands type trail heads back down to sea level. Our advice – make sure your arms are strong as this is a real workout! After a short, or long, refuel at water point 1 teams will climb towards the ancient village of Lubenice and the famed Shepherd’s Paradise. This trail can only be ridden during the event so be sure to soak it in and have fun!
Once back at sea level in Martinšćica easy riding offers recovery opportunities before water point 2 in Ustrine. After a quick refuel teams begin the journey back to Cres via the most remote part of the route in Belej. The middle section of Stage 2 is wild and natural and is for the real mountain bikers who yearn for the challenge. A highlight of the day is a glimpse of Croatia’s largest lake, Vransko Jezero, where all of Cres’ drinking water comes from. With little more than 25 kilometres to go, punchy climbs and sweeping descents are the order of the day; keep your eyes peeled because we’ve been lucky enough to spot deer here over the past few years!
The finish of Stage 2 is in the city centre of Cres and teams will be treated to a ride through the old town and marina before crossing the line in the city centre.
19 APRIL 2024
Push Your Limits
Stage 3, on Lošinj, takes in the very best of the island, from urban riding to rocky singletracks, steep climbs to twisting descents.
The stage begins at the old centre where coffee shops, tourist attractions, the famous boats of 4Islands, and the excitement of hundreds of riders combine to paint a picture that’s unlike any MTB start anywhere in the world.
The stage begins and skirts the harbour’s edge and proceeds to the Čikat peninsula where short climbs and descents blend into each other in between the singletracks along the shoreline. Once the legs are warmed up the first major climb of the day arrives, fortunately it is on tar and from the top it’s a long and fast descent where caution needs to be exercised if riders are to make it down without mishap! Once back at sea level, there’s more climbing on the far side of the island, and it is steep! Grind to the top and then enjoy the rocky trails that follow through forests and towns and down the side of the mountain. The final kilometres wind their way along the coast, through Rovenska and Veli Lošinj on the way back to Mali Lošinj, but instead of heading straight back into the harbour like years past, we’ve built a few jumps for teams to test their skills on before the celebrations begin, and the customary harbour swim is taken.
20 APRIL 2024
Shades of Rab
Starting in Lopar, the final stage of the 2024 route loops through the city and over The Paradise Beach before the racing kicks in. With the day’s sightseeing done early, the demands begin with a short and intense climb that will spike heart rates; once summited it’s back down to sea level and toward Lopar beach. However, the route veers off to the spectacular 100-year-old, handmade Premužić trail which leads teams back up the mountain via a stony singletrack. Enjoy the uninterrupted views of the bay and the Velebit mountain range on the mainland – truly a magic site to behold as you climb. Water point 1 arrives halfway up the Premužić trail and offers a break from the climbing and a quick reset before tackling the rest of the stage.
The kilometres that follow seek out ridges and coastline riding with a few surprises hiding along the way; this is the time to enjoy the views of local harbours, marinas, pastures, towns and to soak the Mediterranean sight, sounds and smells. Water point 2 marks the beginning of the Kalifront and its open gravel roads that allow for high speed but watch out for tricky turns. There are also several new trails that will deliver plenty of thrills, hopefully no spills, here. And don’t be alarmed if you spot the endangered mouflon or two along the way.
The final 15 kilometres feature incredible trails along the seaside as well as amazing views before entering the city of Rab and crossing the finish line to the chime of the bells of the four church towers and the cheers of fans and fellow riders as the realisation that you have Conquered the Rocks sinks in!
After five days of racing and millions of rocks conquered, you are now an official 4Islands MTB Croatia finisher!