The Estonian champion to discover the Valais

After winning a new Estonian champion title, Greete Steinburg made a detour to Austria and the Alpen-Tour before arriving in Valais, to do her first race in Switzerland during the Raid Evolénard. During her stay, she also discovered the course of the World Championships in Grächen. The Raid Evolénard collected his first impressions:

After your Estonian champion title, you took part directly in the four-stage race of the Alpen-Tour in Austria and now you are already in Switzerland… How did you decide on this planning?

I ran in Alpentour 2 years ago and I had a bad fall on the first stage after about 40 km. I couldn’t run there anymore, but I finished the lap as a training. Last summer, I had national championships xcm at the same time as the Alpentour and I couldn’t go back. This year was the right time for me, and I decided that I wanted to go back and create good memories. It was also part of my preparation for the European Championships. Coming to participate in the Raid Evolénard and discover the route of the world championships was a great opportunity to refine this preparation

Anakolodge, the ideal place to recharge your batteries and recover between races!

Riding on the Raid Evolénard course was your first mountain bike experience in Switzerland… How did it go?

I love nature, mountains and people in Switzerland. Switzerland really seems to be a mountain biking paradise, so I really enjoyed being able to discover this region.

Can you tell us a little more about mountain biking in Estonia compared to Switzerland?

Unfortunately, we do not have mountains in Estonia. The highest point is 318 m above sea level. So we don’t have a „real“ ATV. Our marathons are quite fast, many gravel roads, but we also have beautiful tracks with many roots. It’s a little more „hilly“ to the south, so I prefer to drive there. But it must be said that all the races are very well organized and we have many races!

First wheel turns in Switzerland on the course of the Raid Evolénard. Not much to do with Estonia

During your stay in Valais, you also took the opportunity to discover the course of the World Championships in Grächen. Can you describe a little bit what awaits the runners in September?

The World Championships course is nice! Many climbs, really impressive descents and fast and fun singletrails. Most of the major climbs are on asphalt and are not very steep. It’s much harder here in Evolène and so it’s a good training. I loved the technical trails and small villages we crossed.

Do you think it’s a path that will suit you well? What will be your goal for this championship?

I think it might be fine for me. Not too technical and a lot of climbing. It’s certain that the strongest will win! I will work hard for the World Championships and will do my best to get my best result so far. Last year, I finished 21st, of course, I want to do better this year.

Un parcours des Championnats du Monde qui semble bien lui convenir

What will be your next destinations after your departure from Evolène on Monday?

We’re going home with my father. After my return to Estonia, I would do a good week of training, then at the end of June I would plan a marathon race in Finland, then I would go to Norway for the European XCM Championships. I’m really looking forward to running there!

Schlusslauf der Bike Marathon Classics am Iron Bike Race, das zugleich als Mountainbike-Marathon-Schweizermeisterschaft zählte, am Sonntag, 30. September 2018 in Einsiedeln. 
Foto Martin Platter

Ariane Lüthi joins the Kross Racing Team with big goals

With the withdrawal of Team Spur, the Swiss marathon mountain bike champion found herself without a team, but finally bounced back perfectly by taking the place left vacant by Jolanda Neff within Team Kross. Ariane comes back with us on her best moments spent within Team Spur, the difficulties to find a new team and her objectives alongside Maja Włoszczowska !

You spent three exciting years with the Team Spur. What will remain as your best memories of this period?

Winning the Cape Epic together with Annika Langvad in 2016 and watching my team mate James Reid racing at the Rio Olympic Games and then Alan Hatherly becoming the U23 World Champion in Lenzerheide were probably the most significant successes of our small team, which I am very proud of.
However, two of my most emotional memories were the two Swiss Marathon Champ titles I won in the Spur colours. The one at the Raid Evolènard in 2016 was very special because my manager Nic Lamond came all the way from his holiday in France to support me and I really didn’t expect to win the title. It felt so great to reward all his effort he has done for us with that victory.

One of Ariane’s highlights at Team Spur
The Team Spur made the public announcement of closing the team pretty late. How did you learn about it and how was your hunt for a new team in a context where the sponsors are more and more reluctant to support bike teams?

The marketing manager of Spur, Sacha du Plessis, called me personally in June already to tell me that they will have to reduce their investment for 2019. Spur didn’t pull out completely though, they keep supporting me this year and I remain as an ambassador for the Spur Schools MTB League in South Africa, which is something I am very passionate about.
Finding a new title sponsor proofed to be incredibly hard indeed. My manager Nic Lamond and I approached a lot of businesses with our proposal without any success. It was a tough time, not knowing if I were still able to continue my career as a professional rider for much longer.

The Swiss champion came very close to leaving the circuit
And finally you managed to sign in the Kross Racing Team, where you will replace Jolanda Neff. How such a great outcome became possible?

When I heard that Jolanda Neff was leaving the team I took a leap of faith and asked Maja if she was interested in racing the Cape Epic with me. To my fortune she and the team showed great interest and that’s when the negotiations about me joining Kross Racing Team started.

A champion who likes to share her passion! Foto Martin Platter
With Maja Włoszczowska, you will get a very strong team mate for the Cape Epic. Do you already have some clear plans on this side?

Yes, as mentioned above the Cape Epic was the reason why it all came together. I’m truly honoured to be able to race with a two time Olympic silver medalist and have the world class support of Kross Racing Team for this demanding race.

After the European medal last year, what will be your priority for the next season and how the team switch will affect your race program?

My main goals for 2019 are the Cape Epic in March, European Marathon Champs in Norway beginning July and of course the Marathon Wold Championships in Grächen, Switzerland, in September. As you can see my focus remains on the long distance and my calendar doesn’t change much to last year. However, since Kross is a Polish bike brand, I will be racing a few races there. I already look forward to visit Poland and discovering a new country on my bike.

En route sous de nouvelles couleurs pour de nouvelles médailles!