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Italy looks for Tokyo redemption at Val di Sole Worlds

05 agosto 2021 - 10:56

After the Olympic setback, the Italian National Cross Country team wants to redeem itself at the World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy (25-29 August)


Following a disappointing Olympic campaign, the Italian Cross Country team led by coach Mirko Celestino looks forward to the World Championships on home soil, in Val di Sole, from August 25th to 29th, to prove a point.

"The Olympics were an obvious disappointment" - stated Celestino. - "The build-up was positive, with the training camp in Livigno and the good feelings in the World Cup in Les Gets, but something didn't go right. We knew that a medal could be a tough goal to reach, but missing a top-10 placement in both races was way below our expectations. The weather conditions probably affected us, but it was the same for everyone. There are no excuses. We have to work harder and redeem ourselves in Val di Sole."

In a few days, the CT will have to his riders for the World Championships, but Celestino has no regrets over his choices for Tokyo. "I brought our best riders to the Olympics. A lowkey race, even the Olympic one, cannot cancel the good things we have done in recent years in the World Cup, in the European Championships and the World Championships. We made some mistakes, but I believe in my athletes. We will go out for more in Val di Sole."


Unlike the Olympic Games, the World Championships are also open to the Juniors and U23 categories, the only ones that have given Italy some reasons for happiness in 2021. "Zanotti and Avondetto are at the top of the U23 category, so we have legitimate expectations - Celestino explained. - Then there's Sara Cortinovis, coming off an impressive streak at Internazionali d'Italia Series among Junior Women. We have athletes at a high level in every category, and I am confident they will show where they belong, pushed by the fans of Val di Sole. In particular, I have big expectations for the Team Relay: we can certainly aim for gold."

Italy will look for a bounce-back by Gerhard Kerschbaumer, the vice-World Champion in Lenzerheide in 2018. Celestino tried to provide his interpretation of his top rider's struggles. "Gerhard has been undertone since the beginning of the season. He has never been competitive, and I believe that changing his training schedule in the most important year of his career might not have been a sound choice. That's something you don't usually do in a season with the Olympics and the World Championships at home."

"I don't blame the team or anybody - Celestino continues - because it is normal for a big team to shape their riders' schedules, but Kerschbaumer is a guy who loves to train by feeling, often in solitude. I think the problem is more in his head than in his legs: I hope that the gear shift will come in Val di Sole".

It is going to be a packed schedule for the Celestino's line-ups in Val di Sole - as well as for all the other competing national teams at the 2021 World Championships. On the opening day, Wednesday, August 25th, the Team Relay is scheduled (12.30 pm), followed on Thursday, August 26th by the Junior Cross Country races (women at 11.30 am and men at 1.30 pm) and the new entry in the rainbow program, the Short Track competitions (women at 5.00 pm and men at 5.45 pm). On Saturday, August 28th, it will be time for the remaining Cross Country races (U23 women at 9.00, U23 men at 10.45, Elite women at 13.00 and Elite men at 15.45).

Vitesse - Val di Sole Bike Land Press Office

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