The Erzberg Rodeo is the king of the hard enduros. On June 8, 2023, the famed Austrian strip mine will host the 29th running of the ErzbergRodeo. Thousands of enthusiasts will pack the event and thousands more will watch the live stream on Red Bull TV. This is will be another incredible year. Following his first victory at the Erzberg Hare Scramble last year, young Manuel “Letti” Lettenbichler continued his winning streak by clinching the 2022 World Championship. As for the 2022 Erzberg, we saw some great battling. Notably, Mario Roman delivered an outstanding performance, finishing a mere 3 minutes behind Mani. Additionally, several contenders from the US Hard Enduro series made their presence known at Erzberg, with the impressive showing of “The Robot” Trystan Hart securing a spot on the podium.
This year, we are anticipating one of the strongest and most competitive fields in recent years, as the majority of the world’s top riders are in good health and ready to tackle the event. Last year, many participants regarded it as the toughest ErzbergRodeo to date, and we can expect no less this year. The rider who combines unwavering determination, exceptional resilience, and a touch of luck will ultimately claim the top spot on the podium. Without further ado, here is a list of our top choice contenders for the 2023 suffer fest.
MANUEL “LETTI” LETTENBICHLER
In 2022, there were questions about Letti’s form after recovering from an injury coming into the season. However, those doubts quickly faded as the German rider showcased his dominance throughout the season. Now, in 2023, Letti enters the season in excellent health and displayed his strength by securing a victory at the first World round in Serbia. As the current World number 1, he has to be the top choice as they enter the Austrian strip mine.
TRYSTAN HART “THE ROBOT”
Considered one of the fiercest competitors in the world of hard enduro, there were uncertainties about how well the Canadian would do leading up to last year’s Rodeo. However, those familiar with his skills and determination were hardly surprised when he exceeded all expectations and got a podium at his second attempt at the iron giant. With an unwavering drive for success, he continues to prove himself as a force to be reckoned with on the US scene and has proven he has the pace to run with the best in the world. We expect a splash from Trystan at this year’s Rodeo.
Billy Bolt, the 2021 FIM World Hard Enduro champion, has earned a reputation for his remarkable skills and tenacious style. He tends to dominate any type of sprint situation and is a dominant prologue racer which could put him in a good position off the start of the main race. He had a few issues at the opening round of the series but looked really strong and plenty capable of winning races this season. Look for Billy to do great things this season.
Mario Roman is renowned for his impeccable technical skills, consistently showcasing a remarkable level of control on his Sherco. Despite narrowly missing out on winning Erzberg last year, he remains determined and fully prepared for this year’s competition. With his enduring strength and at the age of 31, he possesses valuable experience that can prove instrumental in his quest for victory. It remains to be seen if his combination of skill, strength, and experience will finally propel him to the top step of the podium in 2023.
GRAHAM JARVIS “THE SILENT ASSASSIN”
Just having his name on the list should be enough. However, the 48-year-old grand master of the sport rode with us a few months ago and said this this might be his farewell season. Of course, he’s been teasing retirement for a good number of years now, so let’s hope he keeps defying the odds. Last year, the 5-time event champion encountered a mechanical mishap that effectively relegated him to the back of the pack. He got back on his privateer Husky and staged a jaw-dropping performance, nearly clawing his way back into the top ten from a staggering 500 positions behind. Unfortunately, he was disqualified after he received mechanical aid from his teammate. Nevertheless, his wealth of experience and remarkable track record at the Rodeo always loom large in the minds of his competitors. LETS GO GRAHAM!
Teodor Kabakchiev, the rising star from Bulgaria, is making waves in the world of hard enduro. Mounted on his white #23 KTM machine, Teodor has captured attention with his inspiring determination on any course. Standing tall and utilizing his height to his advantage, he exhibits exceptional speed in the open sections and navigates tough situations very well. At the age of 25, Teodor has demonstrated outstanding talent and resilience. Beyond his riding ability, his positive and humble attitude presents a significant threat to his competitors. Not to mention his rate of progression and successful results over the last couple of years. It wouldn’t surprise us to see him on the podium at this year’s Rodeo.
America’s hard enduro scene is in its infancy, but we still have some riders who have captured the spotlight on the international stage. There’s a long list of celebrity U.S. riders who have ridden the Iron Giant, including Travis Pastrana and Jeremy McGrath. Here are some of the Yanks who might upset the European status quo this year.
Not that long ago, Cody Webb was considered one of the favorites to win the event. He came very close, but injuries have plagued him since then. If he’s healthy, he’s still a threat for the podium. He will ride on the Sherco FactoryONE team.
Colton has earned the respect and admiration of Europe by winning multiple championships in Super Enduro and EnduroCross, but he has yet to have a really clean run at Erzberg. This year he has the support of the Rockstar Husqvarna team and will doubtlessly draw inspiration from teammate Billy Bolt.
Cooper says that riding Erzberg is a dream of his. He will have support form the Sherco FactoryONE team this year and stands an excellent chance of finishing. At Erzberg, that generally means you’re in the top 10.
Ryder Leblond has blossomed in the U.S. East Hard Enduro, winning round two and showing how he earned his place on the Rockstar Husky team this year. He will be riding a Husky TE300 with lucky number 13.
This will be Kailub’s second attempt at Erzberg. He turned some heads last year by winning the Prologue. In the end, he didn’t make it to the finish line. He’s ready to fix that. After watching Kailub win more GNCC Pro races than anyone, we know there’s nothing he can’t do.
Quinn Wentzel will be That Guy on the Rieju again this year. In his 2022 attempt he was sidelined by a stomach bug and says he’s looking for redemption. His effort is funded by Tee shirt sales and rider clinics.
Jesse Werner, Myron White, Ryan Echols and Matthew Hoffman are also Americans listed on the official Erzberg site. We’ll be looking for them. You can watch the event live on Red Bull TV.