Stage 1 of the 2022 Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees saw the BUFF MEGAMO squad experience a near-perfect day. Hans Becking and Hugo Drechou won the stage, which started and finished in La Massana, trimming the men in yellow, Speed Company Racing’s, general classification advantage to 25 seconds. The second day of racing, on Thursday 30 June, brought Naima Madlen and Txell Figueras their second stage win; allowing the BUFF MEGAMO Women to extend their overall lead to 38 minutes and 52 seconds.
The BUFF MEGAMO men’s winning time was 2 hours, 1 minute and 2 seconds, for the 42 kilometre stage. Becking and Drechou crossed the line just 17 seconds ahead of the day’s second placed team, Sergio Mantecon and Jose Maria Sanchez of, SCOTT CALA BANDIDA. Georg Egger and Lukas Baum conceded 1 minute and 31 seconds, of the 1 minute and 56 second buffer they established on the Prologue. Despite Baum struggling, and needing a push from his partner on a number of occasions they remained in yellow.
“Today was a good day!” Becking grinned after securing the stage victory. “We had so much fun on the bike. The new set-up on the MEGAMO was perfect for the last downhill, which was amazing. It was so long, but really fun.” Turning his focus to his first race alongside Drechou, the Dutch marathon champion added: “It’s my first race with Hugo. But we’re working well together. We’re focusing on having fun. If you’re enjoying it then the suffering is easier.”
“Stage racing is the best thing you can do with a friend,” Egger pointed out. “Today Lukas struggled. But tomorrow it could be me again. At the Absa Cape Epic we sort of took it in turns; one day I had the problems, the next Lukas. We always try to help each other.”
It is the team aspect of the Epic Series racing which helps build the global mountain bike stage race brand’s unique appeal. The strongest rider on any given day is still only as strong as his or her partner. Over the course of a four-day event, like the Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees, the balance between teams can shift dramatically, as the strongest rider expends too much energy helping a struggling partner. Often is it the most consistent and best matched combination which emerges victorious on the final general classification standings.
In the women’s race there seems no question that the strongest pair are the BUFF MEGAMO Women team. Madlen and Figueras added a further 31 minutes and 2 seconds to their advantage by winning Stage 1. The German/Spanish combination now lead Karina Neumann and Margarita Endara, of Guambras Ecuador, who leapfrogged ANDBANK MTB’s Marta Ballus and Carla Boj Guerra into second.
“Txell and I have worked really well together and have managed to keep a good rhythm through the first two stages,” Madlen smiled. “We really enjoyed the downhills today in particular. We want to keep the rhythm going over the next two stages, and of course try to defend our nice Ciovita leader jerseys. But also, along with the racing focus, we want to really go out there and enjoy these classic trails!”
The trails continue on Stage 2, along with the climbs too. It is the Queen Stage of the race. Starting in Canillo the day takes in 60 kilometres of racing and 2 150 metres of climbing; including the climb to the highest point of the race, the Grand Valira ski station at 2 322 metres above sea level. The stage will present the best opportunities to make up significant time on the overall standings; though the Beixalis Enduro trail, from the final summit into La Massana is long enough to help any would-be strugglers to claw back time lost on the climbs. Doing so will require taking significant risks however.
Stay tuned to the Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees’ social media handles for updates on the action as it unfolds. Like Andorra MTB Classic on Facebook, and follow @andorramtbclassic on Instagram to stay updated.
Selected Results: Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees
Elite Men | Stage 1
1. BUFF MEGAMO: Hans Becking and Hugo Drechou (2:01:02)
2 SCOTT CALA BANDIDA: Sergio Mantecon and Jose Maria Sanchez (2:01:19 | +0:17)
3. Speed Company Racing: Georg Egger and Lukas Baum (2:02:33 | +1:31)
4. Bottecchia Factory 2: Francesco Bonetto and Giuseppe Panariello (2:04:52 | +3:50)
5. Cannondale TB: Roberto Bou Martin and Pablo Guerrero Bonilla (2:04:54 | +3:52)
Elite Women | Stage 1
1. BUFF MEGAMO Women: Naima Madlen and Txell Figueras (2:57:11)
2. Guambras Ecuador: Karina Neumann and Margarita Endara (3:28:13 | +31:02)
3. Titan Girl: María Sierra Sanchon and Desirée Moya Navarrete (3:33:30 | +36:19)
4. ANDBANK MTB: Marta Ballus and Carla Boj Guerra (3:36:40 | +39:29)
5. The Blue Butchers1: Annemieke Stas and Renate Weber (4:08:58 | +1:11:47)
Elite Men | General Classification after Stage 1
1. Speed Company Racing: Georg Egger and Lukas Baum (2:37:33)
2. BUFF MEGAMO: Hans Becking and Hugo Drechou (2:37:58 | +0:25)
3. SCOTT CALA BANDIDA: Sergio Mantecon and Jose Maria Sanchez (2:38:22 | +0:49)
4. Team BULLS: Simon Schneller and Alban Lakata (2:42:35 | +5:02)
5. Cannondale TB: Roberto Bou Martin and Pablo Guerrero Bonilla (2:43:15 | +5:42)
Elite Women | General Classification after Stage 1
1. BUFF MEGAMO Women: Naima Madlen and Txell Figueras (3:46:57)
2. Guambras Ecuador: Karina Neumann and Margarita Endara (4:25:49 | +38:52)
3. ANDBANK MTB: Marta Ballus and Carla Boj Guerra (4:30:23 | +43:26)
4. Titan Girl: María Sierra Sanchon and Desirée Moya Navarrete (4:32:01 | +45:04)
5. The Blue Butchers1: Annemieke Stas and Renate Weber (5:13:17 | +1:26:20)