Manuel Lettenbichler nails a hat-trick, Pol Tarres creates a dust storm, Sandra Gomez finishes in Gold for a second time
Sibiu / Hermannstadt, Romania, 31 July, 2021 – As the sun rose over the mountain tops, the stage was set in the Carpathian mountains for the final day of the 2021 Red Bull Romaniacs Vertical Madness Reloaded edition. In Sibiu this year there was a sense of reuniting the hard enduro “family”, an international enduro community that has evolved around the Red Bull Romaniacs and the atmosphere was reloaded with enthusiasm and passion for the sport. Having some of the hottest and driest weather in years was a bonus for the success of hosting the first ever marathon stage, the tracks were not too dusty and some of the gnarly Gold sections were made easier, all except the Gusterita hillclimb, which was as hard as it gets!
Competitors were impatient to start Offroad Day 4 and were unleashed onto the tracks at 06:45 am just outside Sibiu in the Cisnadie area, which is home to some of the traditional Red Bull Romaniacs tracks. There was an intense air as riders were hungry to tackle what lay ahead, most riders were well rested and felt physically raring to go. Motivations were high as the Gold riders set out, all of them determined to make their mark on the final day and hopefully gain some points towards the FIM World Championship.
At the end of Offroad day 3 Manuel Lettenbichler (DEU) held an overall lead of 21 mins 11 seconds over Wade Young (ZAF) and 29 mins 27 seconds over Mario Roman (ESP) so he knew holding onto his title for a 3rd consecutive year was within his grasp providing he didn’t make any mistakes or have any crashes. Billy Bolt (GBR) and Jonny Walker (GBR) were also very hot on their tails and not out of the podium picture yet. Then there’s the young, wild ones who delivered some impressive performances especially Red Bull Romaniacs rookie Trystan Hart (CAN) who along with Teodor Kabakchiev (BGR), Michael Walkner (AUT) and Dominik Olszowy (POL) all finished in the top ten.
The day started out very fast with only a couple of technical sections that slowed the riders down, the level of riding was so high that they breezed through sections where normally they would have used some brakes, dry conditions played a big part in this. By the time the Gold competitors arrived at the Service Point in the Arena Platos Paltinis ski resort they did not even look tired. Red Bull Romaniacs signature sections “Antifreeze” and the “Wolfsnest” were thrown into the second part of the race and reminded them it was extreme hard enduro after all. The final tradition of the Gusterita hill climb, plus a few surprises thrown in from Prologue mastermind Andy Fazekas, brought the 18th edition to an end with Mani Lettenbichler taking the win, making it a hat-trick, Wade Young, 27 mins 28 seconds behind in second place and Mario Roman 33 mins behind in third. Graham Jarvis (GBR) is the only other rider to win a hat-trick in 2011, 2012, 2013 (he has won 6 in total) and Cyril Despres (FRA) won 3 times, but not consecutive wins, in 2004, 2005, 2007.
Martin Freinademetz had his day spiced by Bronze rider Pol Tarres (AND) who took him for a game of chase. Yesterday after Paul Bolton followed Pol, who is racing on his Yamaha Tenere 700 bike, he was completely surprised as he was left eating dust on the trails, Martin had to see this for himself and the two of them were in full race-face mode as they tore through the forest. Martin: “this was exhilarating, like in the old race days”. Pol heroically pinned the heavy bike up the steep Gusterita Hill and reached the top chicken run, which was also the highest point for many of the Gold and Silver competitors. He made history by finishing the Bronze class on an adventure twin for the first time. He placed 18th.
Sandra Gomez finished in the Gold class for the second year, she came in 29th overall, this time without any penalties! Emanuel Gyenes is the only competitor to finish in all 18 editions of Red Bull Romaniacs and he did so in 13th place in the Silver class.
The Silver class competitors rode alongside some of the Gold class today as they shared sections of the tracks with them. They were dealt some hard enduro challenges riding along long technical riverbeds and the afternoon was tricky but more flowy with a lot of elevation gain. Nick Fahringer (USA) dominated all week and was rewarded with the victory followed by Toni Mulec (SVN) in second place and Jamie Lewis (GBR) in third place. Professional alpine skier Justin Murisier (CHE) finished in 8th place, not ready to hang up the skis for a bike just yet but thrilled to be able to compete for his second time at Romaniacs.
Many of the Bronze riders felt the last 3 days taking their toll today and although there were tough sections the spectacular views and flowy tracks of the Prejba loop made it worth it. The last remaining effort was the hillclimb and picking a line across the mud hole at Gusterita. In first place was Artem Kuncevich (BLR), second was Bogdan Butiu (ROU), third was Ågust Mar Viggosson (ISR)
Iron Class had a tough day today and after a solid four offroad days, female competitor, Tjasa Fifer (SVN) triumphed by crossing the finish in first position with almost a 20 minute lead earning the top spot on the podium, Raffael Panzeri (CHE) was second and Timo Hermlin (EST) was in third.
Atom Class were also faced with the hardest of the offroad days and riders were elated to reach the finish. First place was Dmitry Akhmanaev (RUS), in second was Roman Kurbatov (RUS) and in third was Danny Melvin (USA). Austrian diplomat Gerd Bommer finished in 22nd position having only ridden enduro for 7 months, he’s determined to return to compete in Iron next year.
Mani: “I am so over the moon, it was a hard four days, the pace was insane, I’m happy to go out with the win, Graham also would deserve it, I would also give it to him a little bit because we rode so much together on the first days I think he also stepped up my pace”.
Wade: “The pace was hard and I’m happy to be 2nd overall, thanks for the tracks Martin and guys, well marked tracks and no navigation problems, I gave it everything, it was all rideable even though there were lots of tough sections, today was flat out the whole race”.
Mario: “We raced for 20 hours or so, anything can happen, we have to be super focused, I am so proud of myself for handling it and being on the podium is so special to me. It was big fun, very fast today, I was flat out I didn’t even see you on the track. I needed to gain minutes to beat Billy Bolt, the pressure was hard to handle, I pushed 100%”
Martin Freinademetz: “We’ve seen a lot of happy faces, there’s a lot of finishers this year. It is also the first time that we have used all the entire race tracks without doing any cuts due to bad weather issues which is nice, we didn’t have to mark the tracks and then take them out which causes a lot of extra work this year. We used all our tracks which makes us happy. We were lucky with the weather conditions, there was a little rain to dampen the tracks, made it less dusty. We are very thankful and very, very proud of our team of about 500 people who are extraordinary people working really hard and with good hearts. Everyone gave their best and thats what makes Red Bull Romaniacs one of the best organized hard enduro events. We are looking forward to 2022 and that’s it until next year thank you to all our competitors and staff”.