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Shimano Blue Bloods tackle the Andalucía MTB Stage Race

When three Shimano Europe employees asked for time off to race the six-day Andalucía Bike Race, we knew they were true Shimano Blue Bloods.

Pushing our limits at the Andalucía Bike Race

Being a Shimano Blue Blood means more than just having love for the company or the products we make. A true Blue Blood has a passion to push the boundaries of what’s possible on a bicycle.

Just like you, Blue Bloods love epic cycling challenges. Like the Andalucía Bike Race, held from February 21st to the 26th in Southern Spain, where teams of two mountain-bikers compete against other teams on six stages over 440-kilometres with 11,000 meters of climbing. 

Three intrepid Shimano Europe employees took on this mountainous racecourse last week to put themselves, and their gear, through its paces. Cor van Leeuwen (Sports Marketing Officer, MTB) and his teammate Maarten Mandemakers entered the Elite category while Joost Hoetelmans (Sports Marketing Officer, Road) and Bas van Dooren (Senior Product Manager) signed up in the 40+ Master’s category. How did their six days of racing go? 

When the going gets tough…

The race opened with a time trial. Both Shimano teams rode smooth to save energy for the tougher stages ahead. The Elite team earned 52nd in the overall standings (out of 97 teams) and the Masters 40+ team came in 10th (out of 62). 

The teams spent the second day advancing in the rankings but fatigue began to play a role on Stage Three. “I was feverish the night before and got a bit of a sore throat,” said Hoetelmans of the Masters team. “Which didn’t come in handy since today was the longest stage.” 

On the penultimate stage, with competitors dropping out of the race left and right, the Shimano teams were determined to hold their now-improved ranks. “What a stage,” Hoetelmans said at the end of the day. “85 kilometres of racing with 2,250 meters of climbing on the amazing trails around Cordoba. It took indestructible character to finish.”

On the final day, the two Shimano teams lined up in Cordoba for 69-kilomtres of riding and 1,789-meters of climbing. As was typical of what all the Shimano riders were going through, Bas van Dooren said, “I had to really pull myself together this morning. I’m empty from the week of tough racing. I had to force down food and my legs didn’t open up until 2-1/2 hours into the (four-hour) race.”

But finish strong they did. After the final results were posted, Team Shimano Elite placed 44th out of the 77 teams that finished. The Master’s 40+ team finished an impressive 9th out 49. Amazing work for guys who have full-time jobs!

Real-world testing for Synchroshift

The Jeep-road and singletrack trails in Andalucía made an ideal proving ground for one of Shimano’s latest innovations; Synchroshift. With uphill pitches of as much as 30% and fast, technical, and rocky downhills, the terrain was a challenge to gear-up for.

Both Shimano teams ran our XTR Di2 groupsets with Synchroshift. Available for MTB levers only, Synchroshift automatically switches the front chainrings for you so shifting from your smallest gear to your biggest gear requires just two buttons!

Running 36/26 chainrings and an 11/40 rear cassettes gave our riders super-wide gearing range. “It was a huge advantage over teams running single-chainring setups,” Hoetelmans said. “It was better on the steepest climbs and better on the long, bombing downhills.” 

“We learned a lot,” said Hoetelmans of his experience. “We all look forward to the opportunity to do rides like this again.” 

For more information about the Andalucía Bike Race, click here.

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