2nd Oct 2018
First Place for Danica Bonello Spiteri in Granfondo Category, Second Place in Category for Patrick Scicluna
Mountain biking, despite being perceived to be a bit of a low key sport locally, has seen its riders making waves in the international scene, registering some great results although racing in heavily competed fields against some professional riders.
This can be seen from the results achieved in the past weeks in the Etna Marathon Tour where Maltese duo Maurice Formosa and Patrick Scicluna claimed the Leaders’ Jersey and overall title in the Masters 2 Category.
More recently a Maltese contingent competed in the Etna Marathon Mountain Bike Race in Sicily where they joined 307 and 441 riders taking part in the Marathon and Granfondo Categories, respectively.
In the Marathon race, consisting of a 78km race with a vertical gain of 2900 metres, the Maltese team consisted of Etienne Bonello, Mark Bonnici, Jeffrey Borg, Domenic Cutajar, Clive Ebejer, Maurice Formosa, Mark Micallef, Anton Muscat, Brandon Sultana, Mark Zammit and Paul Zarb.
This year’s Marathon was added to the UCI Points Series calendar thus contributing to a superfast start especially in view of the high level of riders taking part. Contrary to previous years, competitors hailed from all over Europe and who were also competing in the World Championships the previous week. Needless to say the competitive element was far superior.
Maurice Formosa, continued to show his strength, leading the Maltese delegation with a 7th place in his category and clinching an overall 51st place and registering the best time (4 hours 51 minutes 4 seconds) from the Maltese field and placing seventh in his category. Brandon Sultana also gave a fine performance registering the second best time (5 hours 1 minute 36 seconds) whilst the evergreen Etienne Bonello clocked the third best time (5 hours, 5 minutes 25 seconds).
It was more success for Maltese riders in the Granfondo category when Danica Bonello Spiteri came first in the Ladies’ Category and Patrick Scicluna took second place in his category. The Granfondo race covered a Distance: 45.5 km, with a vertical gain of 1600 metres.
Patrick Scicluna, performed well once again. The race course is set against the beautiful Etna scenery surrounded by the forests in the northern part of Etna. The lava gravel makes it for a more challenging route which was coupled with some damage to the changer forcing him to be limited with gear usage. A rough tumble towards the last seven kilometres of the route nearly put paid to his hard work but nevertheless, Scicluna managed a second category placing and an overall 30th place in a field of 83 riders.
Meanwhile Danica Bonello Spiteri, who is no stranger to tough races and has been an active competitor in the local mountain bike scene reiterated that this is no easy race, taking her over 3 hours to complete a 44km route, which involved 1600m of climbing, including two 6km climbs with gradients of 20%. A cautious start strategy, leaving some of the women to shoot ahead of her, worked well as towards the end of the first climb, Bonello Spiteri caught up. It was at 12km from the finish that she realised she was leading. With the final part of the race consisting of a downhill Bonello Spiteri kept her focus to avoid being caught from behind. Focusing on the route, it was only when she crossed the finish line that Bonello Spiteri realised she took top billing. Apart from winning the race, Bonello Spiteri improved her time on the same route from the previous year by 17 minutes.
The riders, who are members of the Malta Mountain Bike Association take part in the regular competitions organised by the Association throughout the year. More information on the Malta Mountain Bike Association can be found on http://www.maltamountainbike.org.mt/.