Italian National Team Coach Mirko Celestino takes stock of the situation after Internazionali d’Italia Series’ first two stages. “The youngsters showed a great condition. I expect more from Marco Aurelio Fontana in Pineto and Chies d’Alpago”
While Internazionali d’Italia Series endures a break before the last two stages, Aprutium Race in Pineto (Teramo, Central Italy) on June 10th, and Alpago Bike Funtastic, to be held on June 30th in Chies d’Alpago (Belluno, Northern Italy), an early wrap up could be done at the halfway stage, after the HC Marlene Südtirol Sunshine Race in Nals (Bozen, Northern Italy) and Titano XCO (San Marino), that gave Estonian Martin Loo and the defending Serena Calvetti the overall leadership in the categories Open Men and Open Women.
Among the standout performers, Italian Gioele Bertolini was fifth in Nalles and runner-up in San Marino, earning the second overall place, tied in the score with leader Martin Loo. Bertolini’s display impressed the Italy’s MTB National Team Coach Mirko Celestino: “Gioele is completing his development as a high-level rider. Bertolini’s result in Nals was significant, particularly against so strong opposition. I envision him fighting for the overall win until the end.”
Another Focus Selle Italia rider, Andrea Tiberi, will look for a win in Pineto and Chies d’Alpago after the solid performances in Nals and San Marino, whilst the likes of Luca Braidot, Marco Aurelio Fontana and Italian National Champion Gerhard Kerschbaumer performed under expectations in the early Internazionali d’Italia Series showings. “I think Tibi did well, he just missed something extra to win but he always dives into the competition – Celestino explained. – As usual, Gery started the season slowly and then broke the ice in Austria after the disappointing performances in Nals and San Marino. I think this victory might be a turning moment for his season. Luca and Marco need to find good feelings: I expect to see something different in Pineto and Chies d’Alpago.”
Moreover, women’s athletes also are showing up fine: behind the experienced Calvetti young athletes like Marika Tovo and Giorgia Marchet are standing out, while Chiara Teocchi will try to get back in the overall run at the Aprutium Race, after missing San Marino. “Serena is a model of consistency, a professional and methodical athlete, a reference for youngsters. Marika and Giorgia are quickly growing, and it’s not a surprise to see them performing at this level. These girls might have a big role in the future of the Italian team along with Chiara Teocchi and Martina Berta” the Team Coach said.
As far as emerging young athletes are concerned, Filippo Fontana stood out in Nals with a great win in the UCI Junior Series round 2, the World Cup for Junior Category, whilst the Junior Women’s GC is led by the Titano XCO winner, talented Giada Specia. “Filippo has been great: he managed to see off the strongest juniors in the World in Nals, whilst San Marino put Simone Avondetto in the spotlights. We carefully monitor these athletes, who will be part of the Italian team also in the next UCI Junior Series stage in Austria. They are certainly part of our future”, Celestino concluded.