The first European titles in dispute at the European Championships, which will be held in Anadia until July 19, are the MTB titles. The Tamengos track will receive hundreds of participants from 29 countries, who will fight for 11 titles in four mountain bike disciplines. Entrance is free for the public.

This Wednesday will be a training day and, if necessary, a qualifying day for the XCC (Short  Track Cross Country) discipline. The races for the medals in this speciality are already scheduled for Thursday. At 11.30 am is time for the women under-19, two hours later it is the turn of the under-19 boys. The elite races are scheduled for 3.30 pm, women’s race, and 5.30 pm, men’s competition.

As the name suggests, the short track cross country is run on a shorter version of the Olympic Cross Country (XCO) track. The Tamengos XCO track is 4 kilometres long, the XCC track will occupy part of that perimeter, 1700 metres.

On Friday, the European mixed relay titles (XCR) will be contested at 11h30. This is a race in which each participating team will line up with six riders. Each biker will complete one lap and pass the baton on to a team mate. The participants will be two elite riders, two under-23 and two under-19, in each case one male and one female.

Also on Friday, the MTB Eliminator competition (XCE) will take place. The entry list for this discipline includes four riders who placed in the top 10 of the last elite European Championships, the european champion Jeroen van Eck (Netherlands), runner-up Lorenzo Serres (France), sixth-placed Jakob Klemencic and ninth-placed Matic Zagar, both from Slovenia. The women’s entry list is also powerful, with defending champion Gaia Tormena (Italy), third and sixth placed in the previous European Championship, Iryna Popova (Ukraine) and Zuzana Safarova (Czech Republic), respectively.

The XCO races, the only ones exclusively for under-23 and under-19, are saved for Saturday and Sunday. On the first of these days, the youngest riders will be the boys at 11am and the girls at 2pm.

The men’s junior entry list includes the best two cyclists in the world ranking of the category, the Danish Gustav Pedersen and the German Paul Schehl, first and seconde, respectively, but also the number four in the table, the German Lars Gräter, and the eighth, the Italian Marco Betteo.

In the women’s sector, there are five cyclists from the top ten in the under-19 world, the leader of the ranking, the Swiss Monique Halter, her compatriot and world number three, Lea Huber (bronze medal in the 2021 European Championship), the British Ella Maclean-Howell, fifth in the international ranking, the Swiss Anina Hutter, international number seven, and the Ukrainian Mariia Sukhopalova, tenth in the ranking.

The European mountain bike programme closes on Sunday. At 11am starts the XCO race for under-23 women and at 2pm starts the XCO race for under-23 men. Among the women, the Dutch Puck Pieterse stands out, who is the 2021 European vice-champion and winner of the under-23 XCO World Cup race held a few weeks ago in Leogang, Austria. If this last race serves as a barometer for the form of the female riders, we must also mention the Danish Sofie Pedersen, fourth, the German Luisa Daubermann, fifth, the Dutch Fem van Empel, sixth, the Swiss Noëlle Buri, seventh, the Italian Giada Specia, eighth, and the German Finja Lipp, tenth. Portugal’s Raqueç Queirós, an Olympian in Tokyo and tenth in the 2021 World Championships, is another of the figures in the race.

In the men’s under-23 sector, there are seven bikers who managed to place in the top ten in this month’s World Cup race, the Italian Simone Avondetto, second, his compatriot Filippo Fontana, third, the Swiss Luca Schätti, fourth, his compatriot Janis Baumann, fifth, the Spaniard David Campos, seventh, the Swiss Simon Walter, eighth, and the Austrian Mario Bair, ninth.

The track, remodelled for these Europeans, has all the ingredients to provide four days of excellent spectacle. The list of entries, with a good number of the world’s best in the under-23 and under-19 categories, is another factor indicating quality. The public is expected to be present, with free entrance, to create the atmosphere of the great world mountain biking events.

©2022 UEC JUNIORS & U23 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP

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