Hero World Series opener in Dubai attracts top mountain bikers - GulfToday

Hero World Series opener in Dubai attracts top mountain bikers

Amir Naqvi

Hero World Series opener in Dubai attracts top mountain bikers

Dubai Sports Council officials, sponsors and competitors pose for a picture after the press conference on Wednesday,

Bikers representing 20 countries will be in action when Dubai will host the opening leg of the Hero World Series 2020 next month.

The three-day event is scheduled to be held in Hatta, home to the national reserve and an area that allows a glimpse into the authentic culture of the Emirates, from Feb.6-8.

The inaugural edition of the event to be hosted by Dubai is the first marathon mountain bike competition of the Middle East which will also kick off the three-leg series. Italy’s picturesque Dolomites will host the second round on June 20 while the final leg will be held in Thailand on Oct.10.

The event will be held in co-operation with UAE Cycling Federation, UCI, Dubai Sports Council and X Dubai.

The starting lineup will feature the entire male podium of the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championship held last year in Grachen, Switzerland.

It also toplines Leo Paez from Colombia, the silver medallist Kristian Hynek from the Czech Republic and, awaiting final confirmation, Samuele Porro from Italy.

The three bikers represent the best of the best in mountain biking in their countries, to the extent that they will wear their national jersey at the starting line (except for Paez who will be wearing the World Champion jersey).

All eyes will be on Paez, an undisputed champion in marathon races who has won the Hero Dolomites event six times. Hero Dolomites is the toughest mountain bike race in the world.

Among the women athletes, Blaza Pintaric, the Slovene who caught the world’s attention in 2019 for placing second during the European Marathon Championships in Norway, has confirmed her participation.

Pintaric also won another silver medal at the World Championship in Switzerland.

Besides Pintaric, other top names includes Katazina Sosna, the Lithuanian champion specialised in marathons, and Ariana Dormitorio from the Philippines.

Dormitorio has made a name for herself in mountain biking in Southeast Asia after winning three consecutive national marathon races.

Speaking to the media, Paez said: “The Hero’s professional format has enhanced our image as bikers specialised in marathon distances and, for this reason, I want to participate in all the three stages of the 2020 circuit. My aim is clear: win all three to conquer the final trophy.”

To ensure nothing is left to chance, the Colombian athlete has already tried out the terrain near Hatta, testing the race route and all the relevant logistics.

The Hero Dubai will feature two routes – a 60-kilometre marathon route featuring 1,600m elevation gain; the second route boasts 30 kilometres and 800m elevation gain.

Khalid Al Awar, Director of Sports Events Department at Dubai Sports Council, said: “The Hatta region has become an international centre for racing bicycles in general and mountain bicycles in particular, and has caught the attention of the world who followed through the Dubai Tour which was held for five years and was devoted to the stage of the Hatta region.

“This race and other sporting events organised by the DSC in Hatta support the comprehensive development plan to develop the Hatta region and enhance its attractiveness as a first-class tourist and sporting destination,” he added.

Mohammad Javad, General Manager of X Dubai, said: “Hosting the Hero World Series opener in Dubai represents a great opportunity to showcase the sport opportunities in Hatta to the world of international cycling and sport tourism. It will allow us to position Dubai as a word-class green destination.”

Abdullah Bin Habtoor of X Dubai said: “We thank the Dubai Sports Council for its support for this major international event, and we at X Dubai have been working since 2014 to support national projects and are seeking to attract international sporting events to be organised in the Emirate of Dubai.”

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