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First Blood to BUFF Megamo and Cannondale ISB Sport in Andorra Epic Battle

By Andorra Epic, 07/03/24, 7:45AM HST


Stage 1 of the Andorra Epic Pyrenees saw BUFF Megamo and Cannondale ISB Sport drawing first blood in the battle for the yellow and orange CIOVITA jerseys.

Wednesday, 3 July’s, opening stage of the 2024 Andorra Epic Pyrenees was a fiercely contested affair, as one might expect with the elite teams arriving fresh in the mountain principality. One of the five previous winners in the race, Hans Becking, will be particularly happy with how his race began. The Dutch rider and his Belgian BUFF Megamo teammate, Wout Alleman rode to victory on the opening day. In the UCI Women’s competition, the Cannondale ISB Sport showdown saw Mónica Calderón and Tessa Kortekaas gain an early advantage. 


 The stage featured a short, 42-kilometre-long route. Yet, it was no easy introduction to Pyrenean Mountain Biking. Scaling to over 2 100 metres above sea level twice, the day featured a total of 1 550 metres of climbing made up largely by the ascents to the Collada de Muntaner and Coll de la Botella. It was not just all uphill slogs however; the 1 550 metres of thrilling descending included the famous Commencal DH trail – a 5 kilometre bike park sensation in route back to la Massana. 

A climb kicked off the day’s racing and the course ascended from the start/finish line in la Massana through the Pal/Arinsal Bike Park. The first 9 kilometres were raced at a steady rhythm by the UCI men’s field and the top 13 teams remained together through the first time check, in Pal. That number proved unlucky for ORBEA Leatt Speed Company and to a lesser extent the Bulls Mavericks. Lukas Baum and Georg Egger it appears struggled with the altitude, as both men suffered on the first climb to Collada de Muntaner. 


 “Somehow we did not have the pace in the uphill’s,” Egger confessed. “I was suffering in the first part, when Lukas [Baum] could still hang on, and we had to reduce the speed a bit. Then we kind of exploded near the top part of the climb. The second climb was a bit better; we had a more constant speed there and maybe it will work out better tomorrow across all the climbs.” 

Simon Schneller and Axel Roudil-Cortinat felt the extreme elevation of Andorra too, though the Bulls Mavericks were not entirely surprised. “I always struggle a bit on my first day here,” Schneller stated. “Hopefully I’ll be a bit better tomorrow. But today, BUFF Megamo were able to make a gap on the first climb and we just had to ride our own pace. On the downhills we were able to attack though and this kept us in the running to fight for the general classification over the coming days.” 

As their rivals had noted, BUFF Megamo’s Becking and Alleman were in imperious form. They distanced their rivals until they were leading solo, with Torpado Kenda Factory’s Diego Rosa and Peeter Pruus initially best able to limit their losses alongside Pierre Billaud and Martin Fanger, of 

Hexatri – Papival. Misfortune still had a part to play in the stage however. A mechanical for Rosa and Pruus saw them slip from second to eighth over the second half of the course. This left Klimatiza Toteemi Cabberty 1’s Miguel Muñoz and Roberto Bou Martínez to take up the challenge of chasing down the leaders with Billaud and Fanger. 

“Today we felt very good and could push from the start,” Becking smiled. “Wout [Alleman] had not raced for a while, so I wasn’t sure how he’d feel, but he was clearly on good form from the start and even told me ‘Come on, start pushing.’” 

“We got away with Torpado [Kenda Factory] on the first climb and they looked really strong,” Becking continued. “We got a small gap near the summit and then rode the long downhill fast but safely. On the next climb we thought we had a good lead until we got the opportunity to look back during the Pas dels Contrabandistes compulsory portage. There we saw the other teams coming back so we had to push from there to the finish to open the 30, or so, second advantage we have now.” 

Becking and Alleman were joined on the stage podium by Billaud and Fanger, as well as by Muñoz and Bou Martínez. The Hexatri – Papival men are just 34 seconds off the first yellow jersey wearers. While Klimatiza Toteemi Cabberty 1 are at 1:18, 16 seconds ahead of Scott Cala-Bandida. Sergio Mantecónand Jose Maria Sanchez are themselves only 8 second up on the Bulls Mavericks. ORBEA Leatt Speed Company are 3 minute and 31 seconds off the leaders, 36 seconds better off than Torpado Kenda Factory. 

The UCI Women’s race was predicted to be a Cannondale ISB Sport versus Cannondale ISB Sport showdown, and that is how Stage 1 transpired. As the pre-designated leading team Calderón and Kortekaas were likely the stronger of the two combinations coming into the race and though Meritxell Figueras and Claudia Peretti took the fight to their teammates, they were unable to match the Columbian/Dutch pairing. Over the opening half of the stage Calderón and Kortekaas established a lead of just over a minute, which they then doubled on the final climb, to Coll de la Botella. Figueras and Peretti were however able to reduce that deficit on the descent back to La Massana, eventually coming home 1 minute and 15 seconds behind the stage winners. 

“Today was just the beginning” Calderón cautioned. “There is a lot of racing to come and you must always keep two things in mind when racing here in Andorra, the altitude and the long, tough, climbs. We were able, today, to open a gap to the Cannondale ISB Sport 2 team and then hold that to the finish.” 

“It was beautiful out there!” Calderón exclaimed. “We certainly enjoyed the beauty, but It was hard racing too.” 

“I really enjoyed the Pal/Arinsal Bike Park,” Peretti noted, after crossing the line in second position. “It’s my first time in Andorra and I’m happy with how the first stage went. I hadn’t been able to do an altitude camp before the race, so I’m relieved by how well I was able to cope with the altitude.” 

The Cannondale ISB Sport teams were joined on the stage podium by Almudena Rodríguez López De Armentia and Sara Caballero Pomares. Fundación Biela are nearly 37 minutes back and are thus more likely to be focused on retaining third over the coming stages. Their advantage over the South Africans, Juanita Rose Mackenzie and Michelle Reed, is 8 minutes. 

The high elevation challenges continue on Stage 2 when the race starts in Pal/Arinsal and takes on a section of the Andorran Cross-Country World Cup course before climbing to Port de Cabús at 2 327 metres above sea level. In total the 46 kilometre long stage takes in 1 310 meters of climbing and a staggering 1 960 meters of descents. The day’s downhills include a trail through Vall de Sispony and the iron route, Ruta del Ferro. To share in the action and excitement mountain biking fans can like the Andorra Epic Facebook page or follow @andorra_epic on Instagram. Highlights from the race can also be viewed on the Epic Series YouTube Channel. To find out more visit 

Andorra Epic Pyrenees Results 

UCI Men | Stage 1: 

1. BUFF Megamo: Hans Becking & Wout Alleman (1:58:02) 

2. Hexatri – Papival: Pierre Billaud & Martin Fanger (1:58:36 | +34) 

3. Klimatiza Toteemi Cabberty 1: Miguel Muñoz & Roberto Bou Martínez (1:59:20 | +1:18) 

4. Scott Cala-Bandida: Sergio Mantecón& Jose Maria Sanchez (1:59:36 | +1:34) 

5. Bulls Mavericks: Simon Schneller & Axel Roudil-Cortinat (1:59:44 | +1:42) 

UCI Women | Stage 1: 

1. Cannondale ISB Sport: Monica Calderón & Tessa Kortekaas (2:30:40) 

2. Cannondale ISB Sport 2: Meritxell Figueras & Claudia Peretti (2:31:55 | +1:15) 

3. Fundación Biela: Almudena Rodríguez & Sara Caballero Pomares (3:07:33 | +36:53) 

4. CLLCTV: Juanita Rose Mackenzie & Michelle Reed (3:15:34 | +44:54)