After the first World Cup stage in Nove Mesto, the Italian National Team coach looks ahead to the final stage of Internazionali d’Italia Series, where he hopes to get important indications from his riders
The first World Cup stage in Nove Mesto clearly indicated that Nino Schurter is still the man to beat – and that’s no surprise. But the Czech race also showed that Italy is also in the discussion for the top ranks, with a top-10 finish by Marco Aurelio Fontana in the Men’s Elite race, as well as the solid showings of Gioele Bertolini and Martina Berta among Under 23. Good news for the Italian National Team coach Mirko Celestino, who obviously followed his riders’ performance with great interest.
“I was happy to see Fontana in the thick of the battle until the final act – Celestino said – and finally claim a good placement, a testament of the good work he has done so far. In the Elite Race I also saw a good display by Gerhard Kerschbaumer, who is regaining the needed tranquility to express his huge potential, and I was also happy with Andrea Tiberi, one of the most committed riders around, who really deserves to move up the ranks. Also, Bertolini and Berta deserve credit for their performances: to fare so well in a technical race like Nove Mesto is never a case.”
It is far from over though: next weekend Albstadt will pose another test for the riders, followed by the conclusion of the 2017 Internazionali d’Italia Series, the Courmayeur MTB Event of June 2nd and 3rd. A race that Celestino clearly awaits with big interest: “The calendar is very intense at this time of the year, but I expect to see all the strongest Italian riders in Courmayeur: for me, it’s very important to see them race also in Italy, and an International event like this really should not be missed.”
“In Courmayeur, I think our riders will have a good opportunity to shine and fight for the top positions – Celestino continued – so I expect them to face this event with great determination.”
Now in the thick of the racing season, the first for Celestino in his role as National Team Coach, the former Italian Marathon Champion expects to see something more from some athletes under his lens. Starting with the Junior category: “Among men, I hope to see Zaccaria Toccoli show up in Valle d’Aosta. He is in his first year in the new category, and he had started really well by winning the opening race in Verona. Now I hope to see him battle with the strongest again in Corumayeur. Among women, along with a very strong Marika Tovo, I would like to see Francesca Baroni in the spotlight. She is the kind of athlete I like, one of those who spend every bit of energy until the finish, be it for a victory or a 30th place.”
But Celestino’s expectations don’t end up here: “Among Open Men, I have expectations on the Braidot twins, particularly on a track where they shined in the past. Luca also comes off an injury, and I believe a good result could boost their morale and motivations. Among Open Women, I would like to see a good race from Anna Oberparleiter, who has been alternating good and not-so-good displays this season, and also Under 23 Martina Berta, who races in her home land, and comes off a very good result in the World Cup. Early in the season I had raised doubts about her fitness, now she is reacting and I hope she is ready for a big performance. Among Under 23 men, I like the duel between Colledani and Bertolini. Who will come up on top? Gioele looks very sharp right now.”