Stage 1 of the 2023 4Islands MTB Croatia explored the trails of Baška, on Krk, in its 78 kilometres and took in a route new to both the event and to all the teams racing. The Men’s category saw a change in leaders as Orbea x Leatt X Speed Company crossed the finish line nearly five minutes ahead of BUFF MEGAMO to claim the CIOVITA leader jerseys. The Women’s category leader jerseys wearers, sportograf.com – Bike Aid MTB, extended their lead when they won the stage.
The islands of Kvarner, Croatia are spectacular in any weather conditions, but when the sun shines, the region is truly majestic. Teams were treated to near perfect conditions during Stage 1 as the day began fresh and overcast before the sun broke through the clouds just as the racing was heating up. With 78 kilometres of racing on the cards, exploring the trails on Krk like never before, the scene was set for an immense opening stage of the 2023 4Islands MTB Croatia.
The action began seemingly immediately in the men’s race with the BUFF MEGAMO, resplendent in the yellow leader jerseys, and the charging Orbea x Leatt x Speed Company led the pack up the opening climbs and into the famous moon plateau. By service station 1, it was two teams alone going at it hammer and tongs to wear each other down.
“I tried to push a super hard pace today as I knew the others would explode at some point. By the time we hit the two last climbs we were on our own,” explained Egger about the team’s race tactics. “I think Hugo [Drechou] suffered today but it’s still early in the race and we are going to have to see how the next days go. I loved the trails though, they’re rough, but not too bad. You just need to ride good, safe lines so that you don’t damage any equipment or suffer any mechanicals.”
The paced proved too much for Drechou of BUFF MEGAMO and the pair was forced to slow, allowing Egger and Baum to surge ahead to the stage win. Behind them, nearly five minutes later, a sprint for second and third unfolded as BUFF MEGAMO and KTM Alchemist Brenta Brakes rounded the final turn and launched for the line; Hans Becking crossed first of the four and Drechou third, thus securing second on the stage and on the general classification ahead of Lorenzo Samparsi and Dario Cherchi.
Orbea x Leatt x Speed Company will start Stage 2 of the 4Islands in the yellow CIOVITA leader jerseys and they’re eager to make it count.
“We had some good dinners after the Cape Epic and now we are both wearing the same size leader jerseys here at the 4Islands,” laughed Baum. “They feel a bit tighter than they did back in South Africa but we had a lot of fun out there today and we understand the slogan ‘Conquer The Rocks’ is no joke. We’re going to try hold onto these with everything we’ve got!”
Stage 1 was another exciting day in the Women’s category at the 4Islands MTB Croatia.
The stage featured an early climb out of the Baška port and up towards the moon plateau; this is where the sportograf.com – Bike Aid MTB team of Bettina Janas and Kim Ames made their break and made the day their own.
“Today was a really good day! Our plan was to not look at the others and ride our own race, and we did just that. The trails on these islands are incredible and I am having an amazing time with Kim,” explained Janas.
“I was really happy that Bettina had a great day,” said Ames. “For me it was a little bit too long especially as Betty was feeling really good and giving everything on the front. The views distracted me from the pain for a little bit but towards the end I just had to hang on and give my everything to get to the finish line.”
Janas and Ames, kitted out in their orange CIOVITA leader jerseys raced the remainder of the stage alone, allowing them to enjoy the new route without too much threat from their competitors. After 03:48:22, they crossed the finish line in Baška, hands raised high, to celebrate a back to back win. Their win on Stage 1 extended their overall lead to 5 minutes and 47 seconds.
Tanja Priller and Greta Karasiovaité, of TRISCELION | SRT-Protective Factory, finished the stage in second while Alessia Nay and Liisa Ehrberg crossed the line in third. The general classification standings remained unchanged.
Stage 2 of the 2023 4Islands MTB Croatia sees teams board the boats and Jadrolinija Ferry and set sail for Rab where they’ll race from Lopar to the city of Rab in a route consisting of 76 kilometres and 1300 metres of climbing.
2023 4Islands MTB Croatia – Stage 1 Results
2023 4Islands MTB Croatia – General Classification After Stage 1
To view the complete results across all the 2023 4Islands MTB Croatia categories, please click here