Gerard Minoves, the duo Ismael Ventura and Guillem Cassú (MTB category), Miguel Heras (TrailRun), Aritz Egea and Oihana Kortazar (Experience) claim the first victories in the longest stage of the competition through Menorca’s wild north, between Camí del Pilar and Maó
The first stage of the ninth edition of the ARTIEM Epic Camí de Cavalls 360º Menorca took place on Friday, 3 November. It was an exciting day of trail running and mountain biking that took the participating athletes through the northern part of the island, between Camí del Pilar and Maó. The route was 69 km long, with a 1,580 m difference in altitude in the TrailRun and MTB categories. It was 31 km long in the Experience category.
Miguel Heras and Alfonsina Peppa were the solo winners of the day in TrailRun, with Albert Mora and Roger Franch finishing first as a team. Gerard Minoves won the MTB category as a solo competitor, while Ismael Ventura and Guillem Cassú were the first team to cross the finish line. In Experience, Aritz Egea set the best time, Oihana Kortazar was the fastest woman and Pau Benejan and Rubén Benejam were the swiftest team.
The wind featured heavily throughout the stage, though most of the time it blew at the participants’ backs. Only in some turns and in the final part of the stage did it give the competitors problems by blowing head-on. The rain caused more complications, falling right at the start of the stage but leaving the terrain wet and slippery in the more technical first half of the route, full of stones.
MTB: An eliminatory race
The MTB category became an eliminatory race due to punctures, falls and mechanical breakdowns. The stage was divided into three parts: a first section with highly technical terrain and many stones, a second stretch with neutralised time inside S’Albufera des Grau Natural Park and the last section along the eastern coast of Menorca.
Last year’s top two finalists, Gerard Minoves and Aaron Genestar, started out in front, along with the team formed by Ismael Ventura and Guillem Cassú. All suffered falls and punctures along the kilometres of this first part of the route except Gerard Minoves, who managed to maintain his mechanical and vertical integrity without slowing down. In this way, the Girona native was the first to reach the neutralised section.
Inside S’Albufera des Grau Natural Park, with the watch stopped, Ismael Ventura and Guillem Cassú caught up to Gerard Minoves. From there, all three continued together for the rest of the route until crossing the finish line. Due to a sore hand, Isma Ventura had to get a checkup at the hospital to rule out an injury.
Further behind, other favourites also had incidents. Oliver Avilés suffered a breakdown and Ismael Esteban had problems with a wheel. Both crossed the finish line in Maó many minutes behind.
TrailRun: Miguel Heras dominates at will
In the TrailRun category, contested on the same route as the MTB, Miguel Heras took the lead from the start. At around the 30 km mark, at Arenal de Son Saura del Nord, he was five minutes ahead of Pablo Villa and Víctor Águila, who vied for second place. However, Pablo Villa suffered an adductor injury that forced him to withdraw shortly thereafter, passing through Addaia.
From there until the end, Miguel Heras only competed against himself, as he covered the long kilometres of the stage. He crossed the finish line in Maó over ten minutes before Víctor Águila and nearly a half hour before Jesús Gil.
The women’s category was more hotly contested, with three runners vying for the lead in the first few kilometres. Karina Gómez dominated the race during the first 30 km until Alfonsina Peppa overtook her. Cristina Palomo always trailed close behind, followed by local idol Mari Allés, who won the Experience category last year. Alfonsina Peppa crossed the finish line over five minutes before Karina Gómez, while Cristina Palomo fell apart in the end and came in at nearly one hour.
Experience: Aritz Egea and Oihana Kortazar take charge
The two big favourites in the Experience category gave their rivals no chance in a fast race held under ideal conditions between Addaia and Maó (31 km). Aritz Egea took the lead from the start and set a strong pace that nobody could follow. Jairo Laguna and Jokin Gijarro had an interesting duel for the second position and finished six minutes after the winner.
Oihana Kortazar finished fifth overall and was the fastest woman. She crossed the finish line fifteen minutes after Aritz Egea and nearly a half hour before Laia Serra, who took second place.
The best team was Pau Benejam and Rubén Benejam, who finished ten minutes before Pablo Romero and Sergi López.
How to follow the event
The ARTIEM Epic Camí de Cavalls 360º 2022 is an event sponsored by the Fundació Foment del Turisme de Menorca, with the cooperation of the Spanish government’s Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, funded by the European Union – Next Generation EU and the government of the Balearic Islands’ Tourism Strategy Agency.
You can follow the it through the organisation’s different channels: