The 21st edition of the Alpen Tour Trophy was held from 9 - 13 June 2019. The event is not for the faint of heart. A super tough race held amongst the spectacular backdrop of the Austrian Alps brings a sublime mixture of pleasure and pain for those racing.
In the 1990's Austrian, Gerhard Schonbacher undertook an endeavor to create the hardest MTB stage race in the world. He came up with the Crocodile Trophy, an annual race held in Australia since 1995.
His affinity for organising races over terrain that seems almost cruel to those participating in them is abundantly clear in the Alpen Tour Trophy. The race held in Schonbacher's home nation of Austria is centered in Schladming, an incredibly picturesque town situated in the heart of the the Austrian Alps.
The extreme challenge that faced riders lining up to tackle the Alpen Tour is clearly set out in the course profiles for each of the 4 stages. Stage 1 (the Queen Stage) was initially planned to be a 70km loop with an elevation gain of 3,100m. Stages 2 and 3 were marginally shorter with still over 2,500m of elevation planned for each day, with Stage 4 finishing with a 10km ITT that had an average gradient of over 12%. The race was certain to be contested by the best climbers of the field.
What wasn't clear from the profile was the additional challenge that riders would be confronted with along the route. This included snow, single track paths covered in roots, mud, loose gravel, as well as the jumps, bumps, burms, bridges and the high speed Plainai downhill bike park.
The 21st edition of the Alpen Tour Trophy was however reduced in length and elevation gain from previous years due to an excessive amount of snow remaining on the route. To many riders (particularly this one), such announcement was welcomed, whilst others I spoke to had been looking forward to the spectacular views the higher ascents had in store. The course changes however did not impact the extreme nature of this race and the views were nothing short of sensational.
The pre-race announcement of snow was hard to believe when arriving in Schladming, as the whether for the race was spectacular. During the event temperatures hit nearly 30 degrees, however after climbing to above 2,000m, there were still patches of snow on the shortened route.
The orgainsation of this race couldn't have been better. Simply put, this was a professional event that was run very well. As you would expect with any UCI event where professionals are competing, the race was run like clockwork and to the organiser's credit, the more than 250 amateur riders were made to feel like important participants of the event.
The nightly themed dinner events where also very well attended, with hundreds of riders appearing each evening to eat together and congratulate the prize winners.
Finally, Schladming is a wonderful town to visit. The summer cards provided by most of the local hotels included a huge range of benefits for the local tourist attractions. Although not particularly useful to most of the riders after such hard days of racing, the city is packed with activities for families who may be attending in support.
Congratulations to the following riders who shone above the rest to take out the GC podium positions in the amateur class events:
Women (under 29)
Alexandra Wogg AUT
Evelyn Sulzer AUT +01:06:07
Linja de Jonge NED +01:29:43
Women (under 29)
Sandra Sumerauer GER
Petra Lennartsdotter SWE +01:29:57
Men (under 29)
Daniel Højen Nielsen GER
Dominik Thiel AUT +01:29:57
Johann Klackl AUT +01:29:43
Sebastian Geimecke GER
Benjamin Michael GER +00:05:24
Sebastian Jenschatz AUT +00:09:22
Heinz Zörweg AUT
Ralf Kropp GER +00:09:23
Maximilian Zdouc AUT +00:10:25
Jesper Thaarup DEN
Adventure Tour Masters Men (Teams of 2)
RC Sport Vollmann/ Stieglbauer Racingteam
Adventure Tour Masters Men 1 (Teams of 2)
NORA PURE Riders
RC Sport Vollmann Bikestore & RC Schnecke
Adventure Tour Masters Men 2 (Teams of 2)
RSV Trompeter Bad Säckingen 1897 e.V
Adventure Tour Mixed (Teams of 2)
Daniels Cycling team Limburg
Craft and Friends
Adventure Tour Women (Teams of 2)
Sebamed Scott Mädelz
Astute Financial Racing Team