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11 reasons why you can’t miss Red Bull Erzbergrodeo
Red Bull Erzbergrodeo is the toughest one-day race in the world, with 500 riders taking on a 40km course around a mountain with only four hours to finish.
1. No two rounds are alike
The Red Bull Erzbergrodeo takes place in a working iron ore quarry, which means the Erzberg itself is different every time. Organiser Karl Katoch shapes his 35-40km course accordingly, but here are some favourite sections. After the start, the riders climb at full-throttle up the quarry, finding a line up steep climbs like Wasserleitung (Waterpipe) and Zentrum am Berg (which translates to the Tolkienian Heart of the Mountain). Then they run through the trees in Machine and Elevator to the peak some 1,466m above sea level. On the other side of the mountain is Carl’s Dinner, an energy-sapping technical over boulders followed by the descent and escape from Ludwig’s Land and more climbs at Dynamite and Lazy Noon before sprinting to the finish.
2. There’s a 1,500-to-one chance of winning
Red Bull Erzbergrodeo draws 1,500 riders ready to pit their skills against the Iron Giant. The first challenge is the Rocket Ride, a testing sprint around the quarry. The next day is the daunting Iron Road Prologue, two time trials that whittle the field down to the 500 fastest qualifiers for the Red Bull Hare Scramble. On the big day, the riders line up in groups of 50. Only a handful of riders will finish, with the majority doomed to spend their afternoon exhausting themselves as they try to climb up the mountain.
3. There’s a new generation of brilliant riders
Can Mani go one better? Manuel Lettenbichler has a superb record here and is already the youngest finisher in the event’s history after completing the Red Bull Erzbergrodeo at just 16 years old in 2014. He arrives on the mountain fresh from victory at Xross in Serbia. Having finished third in 2018 and second in 2019, if he can go one better, he’ll become the first son of a Red Bull Erzbergrodeo winner to take the top step. But he’ll have to find his way past his closest rival, Billy Bolt, who arrives as reigning world champion and winner of the opening round, the Minus 400. The two friends have been setting the pace in the Hard Enduro World Championship, and this round will be one of the greatest tests of their skills and rivalry.
4. There’s a special guest star
Famous riders have come from all corners of the world to pit their skills against the Iron Giant. Dakarists like Alfie Cox, two-time winner Cyril Despres, Matthias Walkner, Laia Sanz and our expert commentator Darryl Curtis. Record-breaking stunt rider Chris Pfeiffer was a four-time winner and FMX stars Travis Pastrana, Ronnie Renner and Robbie Maddison have all flown in. MotoGP legend Dani Pedrosa has also joined the fun.
This year, it's the turn of Olympian Marcel Hirscher. As one of the most successful skiers of all time and a national hero in his native Austria, Hirscher knows a thing or two about mountains and, having grown up riding motorbikes, he's also a skilled rider. He took part in Red Bull Romaniacs last year and wowed the crowds at the Austrian MotoGP on a KTM, but this will be his biggest challenge so far.
5. The weather is very unpredictable…
As well as attracting riders from all over the world, the iron giant draws strange weather from all corners. Previous editions have unfolded in soaring heat, thick fog, torrential rain, snow and even hailstones the size of ping-pong balls. It makes it impossible to predict bike set-ups and what gear the riders need to wear, adding an even wilder element to the competition.
6. Anyone can win...
In 2007, a little-known trials rider from Poland rode in on a borrowed KTM. Entering as a wildcard, Taddy Blazusiak raced to victory, finishing more than five minutes clear of the field. It must have been a freak result, right? Wrong. Taddy went on to win four more times, becoming the first to win five times and still the only one to do it consecutively. The victory was a game-changer for Taddy. He left Erzberg with a contract to race for KTM and went on to take four X Games golds, six Indoor Enduro World Cups and five EnduroCross Championships.
7. Well, not just anyone…
When we said that anyone can win, we were exaggerating. The vast majority of the 500 starters fail to finish. Even those in the elite – including Hard Enduro legend Graham Jarvis – have struggled on this mountain. Jarvis was disqualified from the lead twice in 2011 and 2012, both times for missing a checkpoint. Still, he returned the following year utterly focused on victory, defying terrible conditions to race to the top, blitzing the field in the process. He’s now won the event a staggering five times, including a dominant win at the 25th and most recent edition in 2019.
8. Actually, sometimes four people can win…
OK, if you're getting confused, let us remind you that this race is a true original. In 2015, Red Bull Erzbergrodeo organiser Katoch introduced a new section, Ludwig's Land – a descent into the depths of the forest and a steep climb back out. But the slippery section stumped the riders who couldn't find enough momentum or grip to climb out. Eventually, the four front runners – Jonny Walker, Alfredo Gomez, Jarvis and Andreas Lettenbichler – worked together to haul their bikes out. They shared top honours, climbing onto the top step of the podium exhausted but triumphant.
9. It leads to a population explosion…
The population of tranquil Eisenerz, the town that hosts the Red Bull Erzbergrodeo, swells tenfold during the race weekend as 40,000 fans flock to the tiny Styrian mining town. Add to that the riders and thousands of support staff, and you get an idea of the scale of the event.
10. It’s magnetic...
The race takes place on Erzberg in Eisenerz – which translates to ‘Ore Mountain’ in the town of ‘Iron Ore’. So the riders are racing around a huge deposit of iron with its own magnetic field that can play havoc on navigation and broadcast equipment. Oh, and it’s also a superb conduct lightning conductor. And the only prize for the podium finishers? A handshake from Karl and a trophy… made of iron ore.
11. It's all live on Red Bull TV
Now you know what it’s all about, tune in for the action on June 18 and 19. Remember to set a reminder! After a two-year hiatus, the world's toughest Hard Enduro race is sure to provide intense action. You don't want to miss it.
Download the free Red Bull TV app and watch unmissable Hard Enduro action on all your devices!
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