Belgians, Sébastien Carabin and Jurgen de Witte are the only Epic Legends who took part in the inaugural Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees. The pair have 9 Pinnacle and Legend edition race finishes between them. Plus, after the conclusion of the third and final stage in Andorra, a pair of Classic edition Epic Series races.
It takes a minimum of 20 race days, across 3 continents, to earn an Epic Legend medal. Since the concept’s introduction in 2018, 57 riders have earned the right to have their names listed in the Hall of Fame; each of them is a committed mountain biker, who relishes the opportunity to take up a new challenge. Sébastien Carabin and Jurgen De Witte, although not racing together, were the first to jump at the opportunity to take part in a new Classic event within the Epic Series calendar, the Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees.
The Belgians have 5 Absa Cape Epic, 2 Pioneer fuelled by Nutri-Grain and 2 Swiss Epic, in Graubünden, finishes between them. The older of the two, Master’s category campaigner de Witte finished third in his category at the 2021 Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees. “The tracks in Andorra were very, very nice” the Cibel-Cebon-Allnuts rider praised.
“They were technical; sort of like the Swiss Epic, in Graubünden” de Witte explained. “I was actually a little surprised by the technicality of the riding and the steepness of the climbs. But the beautiful nature the route showcases makes up for the difficulty of the climbing.”
De Witte’s riding highlight of the race was the Commençal downhill flow track on Stage 1. “It was…” he began, before defaulting to the classic Italian gesture for delicious. “It was amazing. The turns, the roots, the drops… just amazing! We were laughing all the way down.”
When asked about the advice he’s give anyone looking to take part in the 2022 Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees he warned: “You have to train! Don’t expect it to be easy because the stages are short. But you have to come here! Andorra, as a country, is exceptionally beautiful. My teammate, Sven [Berthels] and I drove up from Belgium. We were blown away by how impressive the country is too. I want to come back with my wife and kids to just have a holiday here.”
“The organisation of the Epic Series events is very impressive” De Witte praised. “You don’t have to worry about anything, you just have to ride your bike. That’s the reason why we came to ride the first Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees.”
His compatriot Carabin, meanwhile, was in Andorra to race in the elite men’s category. Carabin and his MTB WALLONIE teammate, Pierre Billaud, eventually finished sixth; 17 minutes and 5 seconds behind the race winners, Team BULLS. “Andorra is a wonderful place for a bike race” he enthused.
“I’d ridden in Andorra before, in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, so I had an idea of what to expect from the riding in the Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees” Carabin said. “I knew the race would be held in a great area and with it being part of the Epic Series we knew it would be a superbly organised event, too. We were lucky with perfect weather too, so we could really enjoy the nature and the racing.”
“If you want to experience something you won’t find anywhere else, come race in Andorra” Carabin offered to riders considering adding the Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees to their race bucket-list. “It’s a race filled with mountains. Pure mountains and pure mountain biking.”
For mountain bikers eager to follow in Carabin and De Witte’s wheel tracks by taking part in the Andorra MTB Classic-Pyrenees the first thing to do is visit www.andorraclassicmtb.com. The 2022 event is scheduled to take place from 29 June to the 2 July next year. It will once again form part of the Andorra Multisport Festival, which also boasts an IRONMAN 70.3, the Andorra 21 Ports road cycling stage race and the Trail 100 Andorra-Pyrenees.
There is also an exciting new Classic event for Epic Series riders to look forward to. The newly launched Cymru MTB Classic is set to take place in June 2022. Taking place in the Snowdonia Mountains of Wales it is set to be the United Kingdom’s first fully-timed mountain bike stage race. To experience racing in an ancient land, where myths and legends abound, visit www.epic-series.com or www.cymrumtbclassic.com.