Video & Race Report: Luca Braidot & Martina Berta Win the Opening Round of the Internazionali d'Italia Series

Mar 19, 2023 at 2:33
by internazionaliditaliaseries  

Words: Internazionali d’Italia Series

The Santa Cruz-RockShox riders claimed the Open Races of the Internazionali d’Italia Series opener, Pineta Sperane XCO, adding to a solid early season for the Italian colors


Top-notch mountain biking has returned to Italy on Saturday, March 18th in San Zeno di Montagna (Verona, Italy), where Pineta Sperane XCO inaugurated the 2023 season of the Internazionali d’Italia Series.

The first stage of the most prestigious Italian Cross Country MTB series excited the fans with all the ingredients that earned attention and consensus to Internazionali d’Italia Series in recent years: modern and challenging courses – today’s loop was eloquently praised by many riders – and the top performers in international mountain biking.

Good news for the home fans is that Italian riders also belong to this elite. San Zeno di Montagna celebrated two great winners in Luca Braidot and Martina Berta (both Santa Cruz-RockShox), one being a winner of two World Cup stages and bronze medallist in last year’s World Championships, the other showing last year and already in 2023 in Chelva that she belongs in the World’s top-10 on a regular base. 

The Santa Cruz-RockShox riders saw off the likes of talented Austrian Mona Mitterwallner (Cannondale Factory Racing), as well as the likes of Maxime Marotte and Joshua Dubau (Rockrider) and talented but inconsistent Simon Andreassen (Cannondale Factory Racing).

Italy could also celebrate an all-Tricolore top-5 among men, with Nadir Colledani runner-up and in great shape, Braidot’s twin Daniele back on the podium, and prospects Simone Avondetto and Filippo Fontana rounding out the top-5. Among ladies, Giorgia Marchet (Trinx Factory Racing), Chiara Teocchi (KTM-Protek-Elettrosystem) and Giada Specia (Wilier-Pirelli) gave another testament to their level. 


The last race in the schedule of 2023 Internazionali d'Italia Series’ stage 1 was the most uncertain and thrilling challenge of the day, lived under the clear sky overlooking the Monte Baldo and Lake Garda. The outcome of the Open Men’s race was in discussion until the final meters, with Internazionali’s reigning champion Luca Braidot (Santa Cruz-RockShox), eventually claiming the top spot on the podium, with the help of his teammate Nadir Colledani finishing second.

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.

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.


Martina Berta's (Santa Cruz-RockShox) great start to the season has been confirmed in the first round of the 2023 Internazionali d’Italia Series.

The Italian athlete, reigning National Champion, took the lead in the opening lap in San Zeno di Montagna, and she never looked back for the four following laps. After seeing a likely success vanish in the final lap here last year due to cramps, this win was even sweeter.

"I took advantage of last year's experience, knowing that the track was tough and the race would be challenging over the distance," Berta explained. "I took the lead in the downhill section in the opening lap, and finding myself with a small gap, I kept pacing without overextending myself, but exploiting the sections that best suited my skills. I certainly didn't expect such a remarkable start to the season, but the work done is paying off, and I am enjoying the moment."

In San Zeno, Berta found a tricky course, including plenty of technical sections and single tracks, where to make show of her superb handling skills. Austrian champion Mona Mitterwallner (Cannondale Factory Racing) trailed behind her for almost the entire race and finished second, 52 seconds behind Berta. Mitterwallner may have been less comfortable on this kind of terrain, but her excellent endurance always makes her a challenging opponent.

The fight for third place was more intense, with a group of athletes competing for podium positions in the final lap. Giorgia Marchet (Trinx Factory Racing, +3.04), emerged as the winner, followed by Chiara Teocchi (KTM-Protek-Elettrosystem, +3.22) and the 2022 winner, Giada Specia (Wilier-Pirelli, +3.34). Sara Cortinovis (Santa Cruz) ended in seventh place and was the best under-23 rider, becoming the first leader of the special classification.


The top-class MTB season in Italy was inaugurated by the Junior Men, who took on the challenge over 4 laps (plus launch) of the challenging course designed by CM Outdoor Events. Winning the opening act was Italian Gabriel Borre (KTM-Protek-Elettrosystem), who broke the resistance of fellow countryman Elian Paccagnella (Junior Team Südtirol ASV), with whom he had led the race from early on. 

Already in solid shape early in this season, Borre had to stop due to a puncture in a downhill stretch and eventually unleashed the decisive acceleration, finishing with a 55 seconds gap on Paccagnella and 58 on Giulio Donati (Ciclistica Trevigliese). It was Borre’s first success in an Internazionali d’Italia Series event.
In the Junior Women's race, reigning Internazionali d’Italia Series’ winner Valentina Corvi (Trinx Factory Racing) dominated from the very beginning, even overcoming a flat tire without any problems. Her final advantage of 1.34 over Eva Herzog (RC Arbö Askö) and 1.48 over Elisa Lanfranchi (KTM-Protek-Elettrosystem) leaves little doubt about her victory.

“We are very happy,” said CM Outdoor Event’s Michele Mondini, “as today we saw a spectacular race, framed by many people on the course, and our technical work on the loop was appreciated by over 290 riders in the action.After last year’s test event, we managed a progression this year, both in figures and technical level. On such a beautiful day, it was also an opportunity to seize the beauty of these places and of Lake Garda. We now look forward to Sunday’s, and the Masters’ and Youth races, to round out a great weekend".

The next act of Internazionali d’Italia Series will be in three weeks, in the Easter weekend, from April 8th to 10th in the unique scenery of the Elba Island. The Capoliveri Legend XCO offers a HC event in a truly characteristic and charming setting, among the Monte Calamita mines, and is expected to attract another top-level racing field. 

Above all, in Capoliveri the Italian fans will get a chance to see the great Nino Schurter in the action: the 10-time World Champion will pursue a success that he has missed at Internazionali d’Italia Series since the Milan’s stage in 2016. Capoliveri might be the right occasion for the serial winner of World MTB to break this draught. 

Author Info:
internazionaliditaliaseries avatar

Member since May 13, 2020
25 articles

  • 3 0
 Fantastic recap. Happy to see this series covered in Pink Bike.
  • 2 0
 I miss the Scribd data sheet results
  • 2 0
 Curious what brakes are on the Santa Cruz?
  • 1 0
 New SRAM XC (Level?) brakes.
  • 1 0
 @btjenki: Rumored to be finally released tomorrow!
  • 1 0
 No idea, but I think the drivetrain might also be something new and that grey Blur has also not been released yet... potentially downtube storage for the Blur as well?

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