The Bianchi Countervail duo makes a one-two in the rain at Verona MTB International, at the end of a hard and much contested race. In the women’s series, Serena Calvetti wins and sends a message to Italy’s coach Celestino. Zaccaria Toccoli soloes among Junior Men, Austrian Laura Stigger claims the Junior Women’s jersey.
A wet start is a lucky start – or so they say. In spite of the tough weather, Verona MTB International wrote a beautiful first page to the 2017 edition of Internazionali d’Italia Series, the first one organized by CM Outdoor Events. The route drafted by Ivan Cristofaletti and his ASD Giomas was made tougher and more technical by the wet terrain, creating the conditions for spectacular and much contested races from start to finish, and eventually the much cherished conclusion for the Italian MTB fans.
On his debut with the Team Bianchi Countervail jersey, Marco Aurelio Fontana celebrated with his classic wheelie the first win in the new colors, and made it just ahead of his teammate Stephane Tempier, the only one who could hold up with him in the final three laps. Same finishing order of the 2016 Internazionali’s first in Maser, but this time the glory is all for the Celeste team directed by Massimo Ghirotto.
The third place went to a solid Daniele Braidot (C.S. Carabinieri), third at 38 seconds, but capable to threaten Fontana’s lead in the early going, before an impact with a barrier forced him to come back. Then came the day’s joker, Michele Casagrande (Damil- GT Trevisan), a consistent Andrea Tiberi (NOB-Selle Italia), the other Braidot twin, Luca (C.S. Carabinieri) and Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Torpado-Gabogas). Maxime Marotte (Cannondale Factory Racing) could not live up to the expectations, finishing eighth ahead of the two best Under 23 of the day: Gioele Bertolini (NOB-Selle Italia), who dressed the best Under 23’s green jersey, and Nadir Colledani (Torpado-Gabogas).
Marco Aurelio Fontana: “I am very happy, and also tired after a beautiful and hard race. Milano is just one week away, and we will have to keep on going, but it was good to start this way. Today the wet added something more to the race, and made it more fun and technical: our tires gave up a good grip, and that was important, particularly on descent.”
Stephane Tempier: “Marco first and me second on debut once again, but this time we are teammates, and I was happy to see him take his first in Celeste. The mud made the race very hard and slippery, but the route was good and we had good fun.”
Daniele Braidot: “It was a tough race, on the climbs the bike was very heavy deep in the race, but it was also a fun one. There were many riders in little space through the first half of the race, then there was more selection. But I am very glad with this podium position.”
DONNE OPEN, THE PRIDE OF SERENA CALVETTI
Verona provided emotions also in the first race of the day, with Open Women and Junior – Men and Women – in contention.
The Open Women race was animated by the duel between Serena Calvetti (Damil GT-Trevisan) and Anna Oberparleiter (Lapierre Trentino Alè), won by the former after she managed to distance the rival in the final lap. Third place for Colombia National Team’s Laura Abril Restrepo, whilst Chiara Teocchi (Bianchi Countervail) came in fourth and claimed the best Under 23 jersey.
“Today I took the start with victory in mind, and I wouldn’t have stood with a second place,” Calvetti told. “I was disappointed by not having been selected for the National Team’s camp, and I felt the urge of showing something to myself. The duel with Anna was beautiful and very intense, and the season couldn’t begin any better. A message to Mirko Celestino? I just hope to have demonstrated that I am still in the game.”
JUNIOR: ZACCARIA TOCCOLI’S SOLO, BABY STIGGER SURPRISES
It was a solo by Zaccaria Toccoli (Lapierre Trentino Alè) in the Junior Men’s category. The rider from Trentino made the best of the heavy terrain to open a gap in the first laps, and then wisely managed his race up to the end. “I wasn’t expecting to be so strong today, particularly in a hard day with such rain. The first lap was really tough, but I managed to make a difference, also thanks to a lucky draw that allowed me to start at the fore.” On the day’s podium were also Juri Zanotti (Velo Club Monte Tamaro) and Edoardo Xillo (Scuola Nazionale MTB Oasi Zegna).
An Austrian win in the Junior Women’s series: Laura Stigger (URC Otztal) managed to come back from a rear start and see off all the opponents. Behind her, only Marika Tovo (Rudy Project-XCR) could contain the distance within 20 seconds, whilst Sara Casasola (DP66) was third, 1.34 behind. “It was nice to start this way, on a fast and demanding route and against strong rivals. Defending the jersey in Milan? That’s the plan,” said Stigger, class 2000, one of the youngest riders in the race. Today, she was certainly the strongest.
NEXT STOP: MILAN
Today the six leaders of the classifications have dressed the jerseys realized by Northwave Custom Project, but will have to defend them in just eight days. La Montagnetta in Milan is the next stop for the Internazionali d’Italia, with lots of expectations for the bunch of champions that will light up the Milan’s afternoon, and another major show of public. There is more fun in store for the MTB fans.
The highlights of Verona MTB International, first stage of the Internazionali d’Italia Series, will be streamed at 9 PM CET on Facebook on the PMG Sport page and on www.pmgsport.it website.