With 84 kilometers through the hills of the Ardennes, the last of the three races of the Roc Trophy was the most challenging for the fifty participants. 172 riders were at the start of the Roc Marathon. Kevin Van Hoovels had to defend his lead after his two wins in the Roc Night and Roc d’Ardenne. The favourite finished ninth in the Roc Marathon, almost ten minutes from the current Colombian champion MTB.
Paez Leon stayed with his competition until the third intermediate point, and soon after destroyed the field. He came to lead by more than two minutes. Claeys, together with Sebastien Carabin, a top ten finisher at the Cape Epic and reigning Belgian marathon champion, came second.
Van Hoovels’ closest competitor – though five minutes behind in the rankings, Julien Delaet, dropped off. He finished in 42nd place after 4 hours, 45 minutes and 54 seconds. As a result, Van Hoovels, who finished as the first Trophy rider, is the final winner of the Roc Trophy. The ex-Olympic mountain biker can go home with a car full of trophies and La Chouffe!
At the non-licensed race, which had over 750 riders, we saw a full Belgian podium. Kevin Nyssen completed the distance in 3:29:44, before Niels Heusdens (3:46:04) and Bram Huysentruyt (3:48:10). Christina Kollmann (4:08:34) topped the women’s ranking on an international podium with two national champions behind her (Norwegian Jeannette Persson and Belgian Alice Pirard), Saskia Hessens (4:51:19) of the non-licensees.
Due to the mild temperatures of around twenty degrees, many riders rode a fast time. After all, the trail was dry, fast and hard.
In one tour, the Roc d’Ardenne not only offered a race, but also added the best the La Roche-Houffalize region has to offer. The name? The Roc Gourmande! The fun and exciting 25 kilome-ter trip of discovery brought the participants to several different refreshment stations. This time without sports nutrition, but with the best regional products of the Ardennes.
In addition, for the MTB-ers with a somewhat more serious ambition, a tour was on offer on Sunday too. The Roc Noire, across 35 kilometers, can still be seen as a difficult task in this area. Tandems and e-bikes also took part through the hills around Houffalize.
Also, the Happy Bike Days took place in Houffalize. Forty exhibitors and over 500 test bikes, Happy Bike Days was undoubtedly the biggest MTB outdoor fair of the Benelux area.