Leonardo Paez from Team Giant Polimedical was crowned winner of the elite men’s category of HERO Dubai, the first race of the international HERO World Series circuit, taking centre stage with a time of 2:07.29,6. Next up was Pruus Peeter, EST, from Team Torpado-Südtirol MTB Pro Team with a 4:28-minute gap. The third on the podium was Hynek Kristian, CZE, from Team Future Cycling Nothwave coming in at 2:11.58.
‘I know the route well,’ said Leonardo Paez, ‘so after the first bike park stretch, I went full steam ahead. The initial part is fairly technical as it is, and then I tackled the midway climb on my own. I had to get off and push the bike: sitting on the saddle is not an option on this terrain. I gave it my all as I did not know how much of an advantage I had over the other rivals.’ Together with the race’s analysis, Paez also gave his overall impression of the event: ‘Based on my experience, I would give this route a ‘5’ on a scale of 1 to 10, which is not a bad challenge for the start of the season. I believe true fans will appreciate the event’s backdrop, and I recommend it to everyone: it is simply unique.’ More than 400 athletes flocked to the starting line today for the debut of the HERO Dubai, which took place at the Hatta Wadi Hub, set in Dubai’s breathtaking National Park. A clear sky was the background for the 50 fluttering flags, setting the scene for a constant crescendo of emotions, made even more alluring due to the natural backdrop of the event.
There were two routes to choose from: the first is a ‘long’, marathon one boasting 60 km and featuring 1,600 m elevation gain, featured in the UCI international calendar. This route was chosen by some of the most important Elite male and female athletes on the international scene, competing to become the first Dubai HEROes. The second route is a ‘short’ one with 30 km and 800 m elevation gain.
The elite women also pulled out all the stops: just like their counterparts, they showed what stuff they are made of on the 60 km route. A blazing, golden star shot onto the podium of the HERO Dubai in the guise of Blaza Pintaric, representing Team Pintatim, coming in at 2:35.00,6. Following in her wake, Sosna Katazina, LIT, from Team Torpado-Südtirol MTB Pro Team registered a time of 2:39.54 preceding Partoazar Faranak, IRN, in third place from National Team, closing the event at 2:55.15.
‘A really nice race,’ says Blaza Pintaric, Slovenia, after cutting the finishing line. ‘I really had fun in this unique, amazing landscape. I pedalled beside Katazina for the first kilometres until the refreshment station. Then I pushed myself harder and faced the climb on my own. It was extremely difficult to pedal and keep on the saddle, so I had to get off the bike in some parts and push it. There was nobody else with me during the last kilometres, and I fully enjoyed the landscape on which I pedalled.’ This was a momentous occasion for Dubai: 2020 will go down in history as the year in which the Middle East Region hosted a mountain bike event featured in the international calendar of the UCI, the International Cycling Federation. A runaway success both in terms of participants and international media coverage. The circuit will close with the HERO Thai in Thailand on 10 October 2020. To this day, 31 bikers, including 4 women, have signed up to all three events.
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