Arias, who rides for the Italy-based Team Giant-Polimedical, chose his XtC Advanced SL 29 hardtail for the grueling race that took over six hours to complete. His teammate and fellow Colombian Leonardo Paez, the defending XC marathon world champion, was a pre-race favorite, but he fractured his hand in a crash several days before the race and was forced to miss out on his attempt to win a third XCM world title.
With Paez out, Arias stepped up for the team and all the Colombian fans. The 33-year-old came into the biggest race of the year in top form, having won the Gimondi Bike MTB race, also in Italy, one week prior.
Arias started out strong in Elba, joining German rider Andreas Seewald, the current European XCM champion, to open up a gap on the rest of the field. The lead duo rode together at the front for much of the day and ended up battling for the gold medal in the final lap. In the end, the German took the top spot on the podium with a time of 6:02:03. Arias held on to earn the silver, 2:24 back, and Jose Dias of Portugal took bronze, 5:31 off the winning time.