The 2023 4Islands MTB Croatia launched into action during the Prologue on the trails surrounding Baška, Krk. BUFF MEGAMO raced to the win in the Men’s category while sportograf – Bike Aid MTB claimed the win in the Women’s category.
12 kilometres, 250 metres of climbing, coastal cliff trails, forested climbs, and rocky descents were the proving ground of the 2023 4Islands MTB Croatia Prologue in Baška, Krk, as over 200 teams lined up for their first challenge in their mission to Conquer The Rocks.
In the Men’s category, BUFF MEGAMO’s Hugo Drechou and Hans Becking lived up to the pre-race expectations of having the number 1 bike boards as they raced to the win and into the yellow CIOVITA leader jerseys that honour them as race leaders with a time of 00:27:33.
Starting as the final UCI men’s team presented BUFF MEGAMO the opportunity to gauge their rivals and know what they’d need to do to best the field. Drechou and Becking are no strangers to the 4Islands MTB Croatia and have multiple finishes and podiums between them; this knowledge of the trails, turns, and demands, combined with lightning speed, proved to be the deciding factor in the men’s race as nearest rivals ORBEA x Leatt x Speed Company missed a turn off the beach that put them on the back foot early into the stage.
“We went full gas and tried not to overthink it,” explained Becking. “Hugo [Drechou] is super motivated to work hard and has all the early season energy and motivation to go flat out. Today was a great warm-up and test of the legs, and they were good; but there are still four long, challenging days to come on the islands. The best thing is that we don’t have to wash our jerseys tonight because we are in the yellow leader jerseys! That not only feels good but also puts us in a good position for Stage 1; tomorrow’s stage is a bit new, so we don’t have as much knowledge, but we don’t necessarily need to attack, but we'll give it our all and see what happens."
The day ended with BUFF MEGAMO in first, ORBEA x Leatt x Speed Company in second, 12 seconds behind, and KTM Alchemist Brenta Brakes in third, 32 seconds back.
The Women’s category racing was equally as exciting as Bettina Jana and Kim Ames, racing as sportograf.com – Bike Aid MTB conquered the rocks of the Prologue and raced to the win in just 00:35:24.
Janas, who won the SPAR Swiss Epic in August 2022, was thrilled with the team’s performance, “Initially I thought that, maybe, the Prologue was going to be too short for me to get going but we had a plan ahead of the day and we stuck to it: not going too hard but setting a good pace, and we are excited to take the win and be in the leader jerseys!”
Ames echoed Janas’ sentiments, “Today was great! Betty [Janas] is a bit faster on the uphills and I’m a bit quicker on the downhills, so she led the way up and I went to the front for the descents; it went really well! We’re going to take this event day by day, but we know that we’re going for the win.”
Tanja Priller and Greta Karasiovaité, of TRISCELION | SRT-Protective Factory, crossed the line in second place 55 seconds behind Janas and Ames while Alessia Nay and Liisa Ehrberg of Velohunt / VeloFlütsch claimed the third and final spot on the stage podium.
Stage 1 of the 2023 4Islands MTB Croatia further explores the trails surrounding Baška in its 78 kilometres and 1700 metres of climbing. Tune in to the 4Islands MTB Croatia Instagram account and Facebook page, and the Epic Series YouTube channel from 10:00 to catch the best images and videos of the stage.
2023 4Islands MTB Croatia – Prologue Results
To view the complete results across all the 2023 4Islands MTB Croatia categories, please click here