The Malta Independent 21 October 2018, Sunday

Maurice Formosa, Patrick Scicluna fly the Maltese flag high at gruelling Etna Marathon Tour

Wednesday, 19 September 2018, 15:41 Last update: about 1 month ago

Current National Mountain Bike Champion Maurice Formosa and sidekick Patrick Scicluna gave an indomitable performance at the third edition of the Etna Marathon Tour, a gruelling five stage mountain bike tour consisting of 265 kilometres and an 8,300metre elevation gain in the unforgiving terrain of Mount Etna.  

Their performance saw them win the highly competitive Masters 2 Category beating off very stiff competition from Italian, French and Belgian teams.

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A promising start for Formosa and Scicluna augured well when they won the 22km uphill time trial event and took home the coveted Leaders' Jersey on the very first day of competitions. 

Their efforts spurred on their competitors to put up a strong fight which ended up in a cat and mouse duel.  In particular, the Belgian team made up of Hans Planckaert and Bart Seynave, who took the lead and won the second stage.  The following day, the Maltese duo took a determined stance to overtake Planckaert and Synave, actions that were repeated throughout all the stages of the race. 

The duel continued until the very last seconds of the Tour.  With Formosa and Scicluna starting the final day with a two minute fifteen second disadvantage from the Belgians, each second was critical.  With all things going well and a minute advantage in the first technical downhill, it was bad luck for Formosa who had a puncture - a quick change never the less cost them three minutes, and the Belgian and French team kept on gaining ground ahead of them.  It then all boiled down to a super performance in the last 8 kilometres of the route which brought out the downhill expertise of the Maltese duo.  Reaching the Belgians and over taking them, Formosa and Scicluna won the tour with just a forty second advantage.  

"This kind of competition is very unforgiving - apart from the heat, the terrain is tough - single track, volcanic soil, hard climbs and tricky downhills - the effort has to be doubled when compared to cycling on the road" explained Patrick Scicluna. 

"Teamwork is of essence in these kind of races, as the two-person race format requires the team to remain together all the time - this certainly helped when I punctured in the last stage of the race and where time was of essence" said Maurice Formosa.

In the other categories Maltese teams performed well especially since quite a few professional teams were taking part. In the mixed category the Bonnici/Aquilina duo were faring well, coming close to finish second on most of the stages however technical issues happening almost on each stage forced them to settle for third place.

Malta was represented in four other categories, with teams made up of Brandon Sultana and Andre Meewusen (Men), Anton Muscat and Clive Ebejer (Master 1)

Most of the riders will be putting this experience to good use since they will be taking part in the Etna Marathon on the weekend of the 22nd September. 


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