CATEGORIES AND FAVORITES
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2019 4 Islands is coming closer and the competition this year will be stronger than ever! We know we keep repeating this every year, but we’re only saying it ‘cause it’s true.
Let us take you through the list of this year’s podium pretenders in all categories, based on previous results, their current form and maybe a bit of our personal judgment. These will be the guys and girls who will very likely be leading the pack and you will need to reach deep down into your power reserves, grit and skills to catch up to them!
Hey, it’s always more fun to ride behind someone really fast and skillful – gives you a chance to improve your skills and if you manage to overtake them the victory is that much sweeter, heheh. Because everything is possible on a race such as this, punctures, broken bones, tree hugging, familiarizing yourself with the intricacies of sharp Croatian stone, bushes and thorns, the winners are not decided until the very last stage, and we’re everyone will pull on their best reserves that you all gained over winter holidays for that extra boost toward the winner podium!
This category has been dominated by Czech riders from the very start. In 2015 the first winners were the Czech-Hungarian team KROSS-PRESTIGE Jiri Krivanek and Marton Blazso. Czech teams continued scoring win after win later, with the last one being Filip Adel and Michal Kaněra for MITAS TEAM, just ahead of KROSS RACING’s Bartłomiej Wawak and Fabian Giger. The first three teams last year came in through the finish line with just a 2 minute difference after a total of 10 hours of riding! This year our race is a UCI S1 race and, with it, the competition just got even crazier. Our friendly Czechs are sending their best this year; last year’s winner Filip Adel has a new riding partner in Jan Škarnitzl, who himself finished 3rd last year in their national championship.
Riding for VITALO FUTURE CYCLING and lead by our most experienced stage race competitor, a man who took the overall win on Absa Cape epic. Kristian Hynek and his young buddy Martin Stošek are another two amazing riders who will definitely be scraping shoulders with Kristijan’s team. We don’t exclude other countries, because it seems the Brits are sending BEN THOMAS COACHING with Ben Thomas and Nicholas Corlett, while the Germans are not to be one-upped just like that with WILIER/FORCE‘s Wolfgang Mayer and Thomas Weschta coming in strong after Thomas won last year’s Mix category.
Croatia’s own favorite MTB twins Gorana and Zorana Težak won 2 times already for GIANT ADRENALINA in 2015 and 2016. SWISS-GIRLS Esther Süss and Cornelia Hug did the same thing in 2017 and 2018. We got some new surprises in store for 2019, with Cornelia arriving with a new partner, Laetitia Roux, racing for a new team MONTURA-VIBRAM. There is a possibility we will have the first time somebody won three years in a row! However, it’s not going to be an easy task, because this year we have some really strong women teams competing; WILIER/FORCE has Rebecca Robisch and Annette Griner, with Rebecca being a winner last year in the Mix category. KONA LTD teamed up Laura Turpijn and Kristien Achten, and Laura knows this race really well, winning second place in 2017 already while Kristien is coming as last year’s second place on the Belgian national Marathon championships. The OAKLEY GROUP GIRLS Janine Muller and Mari Du Toit, of Netherlands and Belgium, winners of last year’s TransCape, are arriving to show how their skills transfer to our specific type of terrain of the Adriatic islands. FOCUS RAPIRO RACING – KMC FRUIT TO GO, Cemile Trommer and Karen Brouwer just might be the biggest pretenders to the throne this year after they won last year’s Momentum Health presented by Biogen Cape Pioneer Trek.
Our most experienced riders gather in a category that is always the most numerous and, other than the Elite, the most turbulent category since the beginning of the race.
Last year we had quite an exciting one until the very finish line, when HUSQVARNA MTB team with Ivica Mesaric and Pavao Roset lost their lead on the third stage to the German MAXALAMI team’s presented by Thorsten Keller and Max Friedrich in the 4th stage, Ivica and Pavao regained the lead and managed to take the final victory.
We’re also keeping our eyes open for Focus RAPIRO-Racing with Lars Lindemann and Jan Kroupa since they will be coming in strong in 2019. Lars was unlucky last year and had to quit after the second stage, so he will probably be motivated for revenge. Ivica Mesarić won last year and has really good knowledge of all the trails on Mitas 4 Islands and is always coming to our race full of energy. And now another Croatian team is coming ready to charge their hard training Marin Dekovic and Marko Fržop.
We’re always sure this will be an exciting category to follow and it’s going to be up for grabs until the very ends. Give us another awesome race guys, we can’t wait to see the battle of titans.
THE GRAND MASTER
GRAND MASTER – a category that has traditionally been dominated by our neighbors from Slovenia, these mountain dwellers coming from the Alpine country north of Croatia took the first three positions last year. Will they be able to repeat this feat again this year?
KEINDL SPORT -BIKE & SKI Peter Vesel and Thorsten Damm, this Slovenian-German team will try to defend their last year winner position. This dynamic duo sports winners of Absa Cape epic, BIKE Transalp…
Iztok Kuret- Izo and Lucijan Premn from SLO MASTERS team, who won the 2017 race, are coming back to try and repeat this feat in 2019.
Lobster Mountainbike Racing Team with Cols Jimmy and Taelman Franky are 2 Belgians who took the 4th place last year, and we also have the 9th Wave Cycling GRANDMASTER TEAM with flying Peter Wouters. All of them will try to break the Slovenian domination of Peter Vesel, who has become a sort of an urban legend in the world of MTB, this Slovenian who is well known to us is most famous for also taking the victory in the mix category on Cape Epic.
Mix category provided lots of excitement and surprises from year to year, a category where anything goes and all is possible.
In 2015 UNIOR TOOLS TEAM with Tanja Zakelj and Urban Ferencak took the win. Then next year, in 2016 HI-TEC / USN’s Martin and Jannie Dreyer, 2 South African MTB icons took the winner’s podium.
In 2017 it was HUSQVARNA TEAM, Croatian-German duo consisting of Ivica Mesaric and Sarah Reiners, while in 2018 it was Team WILIER FORCE GERMANY of Thomas Weschta MTB and Rebecca Robisch, who pulled off ahead with the biggest difference in the general standings from the rest of their competition.
We will have to wait and see if last year’s Elite Men winner Michal Kaněra and his new partner Barbora Průdková can provide the GHOST Team with winners of the Mix category as well, or is it going to be the most experienced Croatian team from KEINDL SPORT who have Pavao Roset , a Croatian MTB national team selector and a local icon with Andrea Kiršić, since these two already have two 3rd places in 2016 and 2017, while in 2018 Pavao took the Master category with Ivica Mesarić.
It should be hella interesting!