Rémi Laffont (FRA/27) and Steffen Thum (GER/34) show they are in top form when they achieve a double win at the start of the Arabian Epic race series in Dubai. The German Daniel Gathof (GER/37) comes third, Simon Gegenheimer (GER/29) finishes fifth.
Everyone expected the team headed by Steffen Thum to show a great performance at the start of the Arabian Epic race series, now that there is even an economic connection with the Emirates. However, no one guessed that it would be as dominant as this. At the start of the 80-kilometre race already, the ROSE Bikes Racing Team with sprinter Si- mon Gegenheimer pushed the pace hard. „We wanted to be on the safe side and quickly build a rather small top group. This is easier to control and the starting phase was my task,” said Simon Gegenheimer about the racing strat- egy. After 20 kilometres already, the top group was formed, including the strong German Daniel Gathof and two more athletes from Norway and Belgium. Moreover, Thum, Gegenheimer and Laffont were in this group, forming the strongest team. The climbs around the Hatta bike park were rather moderate with 100 metres of elevation gain. How- ever, the ground is stony in the hinterland of Dubai and, what’s more, the temperature of 35°C also speeded up selec- tion. In the end, there were only Thum, Gathof and Laffont left in the fight for victory. “Steffen and I were in the majori- ty and we always pull together. I made attacks wherever possible. This allowed Steffen to concentrate on the sprint, if I would not have been able to get away,” Laffont described the attrition policy of their competitor Gathof.
And so it happened that 15 kilometres from the finish Rémi Laffont passed the refreshment station with a small lead of 40 seconds. These 40 seconds were enough for victory. In his slipstream, Thum sprinted for the double win of his team. “It is fantastic for us to start the Arabian Epic series like this. I am so proud of my team that we were able to dominate here in Dubai right from the start. This racing series could become a global standard in mountain bike sports and our performance was clearly impressive. From a sports perspective, yet also with regard to our coopera- tion partners,” said Thum.
Simon Gegenheimer had to slow down a little from the middle of the race. The reason for this was, among other things, the hard training of the previous days, as Gegenheimer remains focused on the World Cup in China. This is where he will be going together with Thum in a week, to hopefully be as dominant on 9th November as his team mates were in the Emirates on the long distance.