The Bianchi Countervail French rider eloquently won the first edition of Andora Race Cup, Internazionali d’Italia Series stage 1, setting an unsustainable tempo for all of his rivals. Martina Berta claims the Open Women’s race ahead of unlucky Eva Lechner. Luca Martin and Letizia Marzani topped the Junior races
It was just the first day of a three-month adventure, but on Saturday March 2nd Andora Race Cup brought everything that Internazionali d’Italia Series wishes to propose over the five stages of an exciting 2019 edition.
In the home town of Italian National Team Coach Mirko Celestino, the local fans got to enjoy four spectacular and entertaining races, in which the most expected riders did not hold back, going deep for the big goal with remarkable performances. Over 250 riders showed up on the start line in the four Internazionali d’Italia Series categories (Open Men, Open Women, Junior Men, Junior Women), paving the way for 500 more tomorrow, when youngsters, amateurs and master will contend the GP d’Inverno jerseys, crafted by Northwave Custom Project.
The first day of Internazionali d’Italia Series was dominated by France in the Men’s categories: Stephane Tempier (Bianchi-Countervail) dominated the Open race, reclaiming the leader’s jersey he has worn several times over the years, while Junior Luca Martin was just as effective in tearing down the competition in the Junior race.
The greatest twist of fate happened in the Open Women’s race, where Eva Lechner (Torpado-Südtirol) was stopped by a puncture while soloing towards the win, opening the way to Martina Berta (Torpado-Ursus), leader of both the Open and Under 23 categories, whilst Merida Team Italia’s Letizia Marzani topped the Junior Women’s competition.
TEMPIER WEARS ALL OUT: A WIN FOR BIANCHI IN ANDORA
Andora remains one of the favorite locations of Team Bianchi Countervail. The Ligurian Riviera was often location of pre-seasonal training camps for Massimo Ghirotto’s team, that enjoyed the first seasonal win at Internazionali d’Italia Series with its leader Stephane Tempier.
The French rider was among the day’s favorite, and did not disappoint, handling the race perfectly and topping Andrea Tiberi (Santa Cruz-FSA) and Italian National Champion Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Torpado-Ursus).
Tempier set a high pace early on, breaking away together with Tiberi and Mirko Tabacchi (KTM-Protek-Dama), with Kerschbaumer and Internazionali d’Italia Series’ defending champion Gioele Bertolini (Santa Cruz-FSA) in pursuit. In the following laps, the Frenchman teared down his companions with a regular, yet challenging tempo, getting clear and enjoying his first seasonal win on the finish line. Finishing behind him were Tiberi and Kerschbaumer, the latter after a good comeback in the last couple of laps. Tabacchi came in fourth, resisting to Bertolini’s charge in the final meters. Gioele Di Cosmo (Trek-Selle San Marco), seventh, was the best Under 23 on the day, therefore wearing the category leader’s jersey.
“I am glad to have won this beautiful race, and to have broken the ice so early in the news season. After the good display in Banyoles, I was confident in my chances for the big goal, even though I knew I would face the best of Italian MTB. I really liked the course, dry but very technical, and after a good start I opted for a head race, forcing the pace from the beginning. It panned out well, and now I once again have this leader’s jersey to defend,” told Tempier, who already won Internazionali d’Italia Series’s GC in 2010 and 2016.
TWIST OF FATE AMONG OPEN WOMEN: LECHNER’S PUNCTURE LAUNCHES BERTA
Eva Lechner was looking forward to her first time as Internazionali d’Italia Series contender among the Élite, having planned to run for the overall through the 2019 season of the circuit, and was hoping to win right away. She was the favorite, and the Torpado-Südtirol rider looked destined to live up to the expectations in Andora until half a race to go.
But Mountain Bike is unpredictable, and even more so when the routes are challenging and treacherous like the one in Andora, demanding for both the riders, their bikes and tires. Indeed, a puncture for Lechner reopened the games, opening the way to Martina Berta (Torpado-Ursus) who enjoyed her first Elite win at Internazionali d’Italia Series in her first race of the season, wearing the leader’s jerseys crafted by Northwave in both the Open and Under 23 categories. Finishing behind her were a disappointed Eva Lechner and Greta Seiwald.
After an early acceleration by Chiara Teocchi (Bianchi-Countervail), Lechner took charge of forcing the pace, leaving only Martina Berta (Torpado-Ursus) and Greta Seiwald (Santa Cruz – FSA) in her wake until the third lap. After that, the Italian National Champion had left the company of her younger rivals, opening a safety margin over Berta and Seiwald until the accident that changed the fate of the race.
“I was feeling well, and I think it showed in the race, but then I had to deal with that technical issue” – explained Eva Lechner. “I am happy with my performance, hope to make up for the result in my home race in Nals in a month.”
The other side of the medal was Martina Berta’s smile, though she did recognize the big display of her rival. “It was a fun race, the oerganizers charted a beautiful course – she said. – “I immediately found a good feeling, and it wasn’t expected in my debut race of the season. I am glad to have broken the ice, though I do recognize that luck helped me out a bit today.”
Also Junior Women were in contention in Andora, with Letizia Marzani (Team Merida Italia) earning the first Northwave leader’s jersey in the category, after leaving behind Letizia Motalli (KTM-Protek-Dama) and Swiss Annika Liehner (JB Brunex Felt Factory Team).
JUNIOR MEN: ANOTHER SUCCESS FOR FRANCE
The very first race of Internazionali d’Italia Series’ 18th edition went to a French rider. Seventeen-year-old Luca Martin (Team Veloroc-BMC) dominated the Junior Men race, preceding Emanuele Huez (KTM-Protek-Dama) and Dorian Bourg. The outcome never looked in discussion: after a first lap in the wake of Samuele Leone (Merida Italia Team) and Huez, Martin accelerated in the second lap, winning with a 1.10 advantage on the runner-up.
INTERNAZIONALI D’ITALIA SERIES, NEXT STOP: NALS
The GC leaders will be called to defend the Northwave Custom Project’s jerseys on Sunday April 14th at the Hors Categorie Marlene Südtirol Sunshine Race in Nals. From Andora’s sea to the South-Tyrolean mountains: if this is the beginning, the show hasDal mare di Andora alle montagne dell’Alto Adige: the show has just begun.