Time to get the season started
With the first signs of spring popping up in certain parts of Europe, it was time for our former World Champion and World Cup winner José Antonio Hermida to put the fruits of his winter training to the test and get the season started with his first race in 2023.
His event of choice was the La Leyenda de Tartessos (2-5th of February), a four-day UCI marathon stage race in the very South of his home country Spain, just a few miles away from the border to Portugal.
The La Leyenda de Tartessos has been going for several years, and it is for many riders in Spain and bordering Portugal the first chance in the year to check how successful their winter training was as well as get back into the racing mindset.
That is precisely the reason why José took to the start line in the highly contested Master 40 (40-49 years old) category, which is ‘littered’ with former professionals.
Predestined for the kind of racing that was waiting for the participants, José took his trusted NINETY-SIX to the start line, in the safe knowledge that the modern geometry would keep things calm in the demanding descends and its efficient suspension kinematic and lightweight frame would give him the speed to compete at the sharp end of the race.
Over the challenging four days, the riders covered over 250 km and climbed more than 5,000 m on a perfect mixture of forest tracks, fire roads, speed technical climbs, swooping singletrack and demanding ‘enduro-like’ descends.
While José very much wanted to put his fitness and bike handling skills to the test, having fun while doing it was also rather high on his agenda.
“My performance was good, and I had tonnes of fun; that is the main goal nowadays. Using the NINETY-SIX RC, I could compensate for my lack of fitness with the incredible capability of the bike. Its reactive XC/marathon personality, paired with the comfort and trail stability, really helped to go the distance and feel in control throughout the four days of racing. In fact, it went so well that I was able to secure 3rd overall in the super competitive Master 40 category”, José commented after the race.
With the 1st race of the season out of the way, José is already looking ahead to his next time between the tapes as well as further supporting the MERIDA R&D crew with feedback and inspiration on upcoming development projects.
Check his event video below.