The reigning champion of the Internazionali d’Italia Series picked up where he had left off, winning an exciting race ahead of teammate Nadir Colledani and his twin brother Daniele
The last race in the schedule of 2023 Internazionali d’Italia Series’ stage 1 was the most uncertain and thrilling challenge of the day, The outcome of the Open Men’s race was in discussion until the final meters, with Internazionali’s reigning champion Luca Braidot (SantaCruz-Rockshox-FSA), eventually claiming the top spot on the podium, with the help of his teammate Nadir Colledani finishing second.
It was a great day for the Italian-American team, who also saw Martina Berta win the Open Women’s race. After the launch lap passed with the riders grouped, a quartet consisting of Braidot, Colledani, and the CS Carabinieri duo formed by Daniele Braidot and Filippo Fontana emerged as the protagonists of the day. The four riders monopolized the top positions until the penultimate of the six laps, with Simone Avondetto (Wilier-Pirelli) being the only rider capable of catching up with the leaders and competing for the top spots.
In a race with plenty of strong riders, all the top five were Italians: an encouraging picture of the Italian cross-country scene for the long season ahead. Luca Braidot took the lead just before the penultimate lap, forcing the pace and surprising his brother Daniele, who had to chase him down with Colledani marking him closely.
However, not everything went smoothly for the Worlds’ bronze medalist in Les Gets: “I had good legs and that’s why I tried to force the pace. Shortly after my attack, though, I punctured and had to finish the race on the mousse,” explained Braidot. Meanwhile, Colledani caught up and distanced Daniele Braidot, placing himself behind the leader. Having already won a race this season, Nadir chose not to sprint against his teammate, and enjoy a team victory.
“For an early season race, it was really tough, very technical. That’s why we tried to control the pace and not burn out in the middle stages of the race, keeping some cards to play at the end. Besides the technical issue, I’m happy to start the season with this success, even though I’m not in my best form yet. Last year, Internazionali launched me towards an unforgettable season. This year, I want to do even better,” commented Braidot.
The great day for the Braidot family was completed with Daniele finishing in third place (+0.05), while Simone Avondetto (+0.38) and Filippo Fontana (+1.26) claimed fourth and fifth place respectively, rewarding two Italian emerging talents. The young American Bjorn Riley (Trek Future Racing) finished in sixth place, being the best under 23 and the best non-Italian, ahead of Joshua Dubau and Maxime Marotte (Team Rockrider). Simon Andreassen (Cannondale Factory Racing) also didn’t manage to shine on the day, finishing in 22nd place.