After a one-year hiatus due to the coronavirus, the titles of European Mountain Bike Marathon Champion will be put back on the line on June 20th in the Swiss Alps in Valais. The region is already well known to specialists in the discipline, having hosted the 2019 world championships in Graechen, and preparing to host the mountain bike world championships in all disciplines in 2025. For the 2021 European championships, organization has been entrusted to Raid Evolénard, a popular mountain bike race that has twice organized the Swiss championships and will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year.
The Raid Evolénard, a race that’s getting bigger and bigger
The Raid Evolénard has grown to become an unmissable event, attracting the best marathon mountain bike specialists, as well as amateurs of all levels and budding cyclists. Contributing to the success of the race are a route that crosses one of the most beautiful valleys of the Valais with a demanding, technical and fun nature, a friendly atmosphere, excellent services and races that are entirely free for children.
Estonian champion Greete Steinburg, winner of the last edition of the Raid Evolénard, fully agrees: “I’ve done a lot of races, but the Raid Evolénard stands out with its excellent organization, its friendly atmosphere, its magnificent single tracks and its breathtaking views”.
Former Belgian champion Frans Claes, 2nd of the elite race in 2019, shares this view: “As much as I find the climbs difficult, I appreciate the descents and the magnificent panorama. With so many technical single track, this race is an exception on the Swiss mountain bike marathon circuit”. And with the new track adding elevation and technical single track sections for the European Championships, Claes is unlikely to change his mind.
New routes for the European Championships
The route for each category will begin with a loop around Evolène, which will give the public the opportunity to witness the opening battles for position up close. The course will then take the racers to higher points in altitude compared to the first loop in past races, introducing them to new, highly technical singletrack sections that may require them to carry short portions. The traditional final climb to Béplan, culminating at an altitude of nearly 2500m, remains to guard the gateway to the podium. In the end, the course will cover 77km and 3900m of difference in altitude, with almost all the descents singletrack.
For Arnaud Rapillard, former winner of the MB Race, who has already had the opportunity to recognize the course, things are clear: “This is a real mountain bike course, which is bound to crown a great winner. The race time will clearly go beyond 4 hours for the best and the choice of the mountain bike, a fully, will quickly become obvious “. The women’s course will be a little less demanding, with 70km for just over 3400m of positive elevation gain. Older riders taking part in these championships will be entitled to a lighter version, with “only” 65km for just under 3000m of difference in altitude.
Championships open to all European licensees
Registrations are open from Wednesday, February 24th on the UEC website: https://bit.ly/3azeKRX. As the regulations stipulate that the position on the starting line for the master categories will be determined by the order of registration, participants are advised to register early. Contrary to the World Championships, there are no selection criteria to be fulfilled to participate in the European Championships. It is sufficient to be European and have a license from a federation affiliated to the UEC.
All information about the race is available in the technical guide, which can be consulted on the race page: www.raidevolenard.ch/euro_xcm_21. While the evolution of the situation due to COVID-19 is difficult to predict, the organizers are working in close collaboration with the local authorities and Swiss-Cycling to establish a health plan in accordance with UCI and UEC guidelines, in order to ensure the safety of both the athletes and their teams and the many volunteers involved on the organizational side. A detailed plan of the measures to be followed will be available on the race site in the coming weeks. Should the races unfortunately have to be cancelled, the registration fees will be refunded, with the exception of an amount of 10 euros to cover part of the costs incurred.