“A DREAM come true.”

This is how Cebuano elite cyclist Niño Surban describes his endeavor on Sunday as he races against the world’s finest in the 2015 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships in Italy.

Surban touched down in Milan Malpensa in Italy last Sunday together with his race team manager Alain Lee, and the two drove to Selva Val Gardena yesterday afternoon.

The 27-year-old from Talamban, Cebu will represent flag and country in the XCM cross-country marathon, set in an 87-km. route with 4,700 m. of elevation.

“Jundeb Esquivel, Dan Ramirez, Oscar “Boying” Rodriguez, Athena Beltran and Lee have made this race possible for me,” Surban told Sun.Star Cebu. “I’m gonna make the most of this experience and give my best shot on race day.”

The event is the first European competition for Surban, but the veteran rider of Specialized PH is not new to international races, having competed in Australia, Japan, Singapore, among others.

Surban earlier said that since he started the sport of mountain biking, it has been his dream to compete in the World Cup or World Championships. He was able to make it possible after earning a slot via an impressive performance in the UCI MTB Marathon Series in Langkawi, Malaysia last year.

Participants

According to the event’s website, 50 countries are joining the World Championships with around 200 elite cyclists set to race. The men’s race will start at 7:20 a.m (Italy Time).

The riders to watch out for in this race are Jaroslav Kulhavy of Czech Republic, the reigning champion; Christoph Sauser, a four-time MTB World Champion; Alban Lakata of Australia, the 2010 World Championships winner; Urs Huber, bronze medalist in 2014; Leonardo Paez of Columbia, a former champion. Also among the men’s top bets are Tiago Ferreira, Samuelle Porro, Tony Longo, Kristian Hynek, Periklis Ilias and Roel Paulissen.

“Each and every participant will need to demonstrate great strength, prime physical condition and an ability to climb the steepest of ascents,” read part of the press release posted on the event’s website.