Martin Loo claims first Titano XCO


The experienced Italy-based Estonian wore down the resistance of Bertolini to take his first ever “Internazionali” win. Serena Calvetti celebrates among women, Avondetto and Specia top the junior ranks.

The first edition of Titano XCO, the new event organized by San Marino’s Cycling Federation, is now in the books. On Sunday April 22nd at the Montecchio Park (San Marino), the first ever Internazionali d’Italia Series’ stage to take place outside of the Italian border enjoyed a wonderful sunny day, in which the athletes fiercely battled on the demanding 4,2 km loop (200 mt. elevation per lap).

The riders were also tested by the heat on the day (almost 30 degrees), but were unanimous in endorsing the new track, that set up exciting duel in each of the Internazionali d’Italia Series categories.

It is never too late. At 30 years of age, many of which spent in Italy, Estonian Martin Loo (Hawaii Express) enjoyed in San Marino his first ever Internazionali d’Italia Series stage win.

Loo’s success came at the end of an almost 3-lap solo effort, after dropping the most competitive of his rivals, Italian Gioele Bertolini (Focus-Selle Italia).

After the launch lap, the first loop saw a group of six emerge – Loo, Bertolini, Andrea Tiberi (Focus-Selle Italia), Luca Braidot and Nicolas Pettinà (C.S. Carabinieri) and Denis Fumarola (KTM Protec Dama), reduced to four in the second lap, when the Pettinà and Fumarola were distanced.

Late in lap 3, Luca Braidot tried the first important move of the race, and while Loo and Bertolini reacted, Tiberi – also limited by back issues – had to give up. Soon after, Braidot himself significantly slowed his pace, leaving it to Bertolini and Loo for the race win.

In the fifth lap, Loo made the decisive acceleration, opening a 20 second gap over “Gio Il Bullo”, then further extended until the finish. With his success, Loo also took the blue Open Men’s leader jersey, tied in the score with Bertolini himself. The Focus-Selle Italia rider was second to the finish line at 53 seconds, with Tiberi in third (2.34) ahead of Pettinà and Braidot. Seventh place Alessandro Naspi (Superbike Bravi Platform Team), best Under 23 on the day, and new leader of the category’s overall classification.

“After many years, it was nice to finally win an Internazionali d’Italia Series stage – Martin Loo told, - and even wear the leader’s jersey. It was a tough race, the course featured steep climb and fast descent, there was practically no chance to recover energies all the way.”

“It’s a good second place,” Gioele Bertolini commented, “as Martin was really fast today. I wasn’t doing great early on, I had to fight to hold up with Loo, but in the fifth lap I had no choice than letting him go. A good early season continues for me, with several good results: my next goal is to enter the UCI Ranking’s top-40 before the next World Cup stage in Albstadt.”

Serena Calvetti (KTM Protek Dama) conquered a beautiful win in the Open Women‘s race at Titano XCO, Internazionali d’Italia Series‘ stage 2. In San Marino, the Italian National Champion and Internazionali d’Italia Series defending champion preceded young prospects Marika Tovo and Giorgia Marchetti, second and third respectively. In addition, Calvetti conquered the Open Women’s overall leadership, as Tovo leads in the U23 category.

The story of the race lived on the duel between Serena Calvetti and Marika Tovo, who almost immediately moved away from the rest. In the third of five laps, Calvetti had briefly opened a gap to her younger rival, but Tovo found the forces to react and get back on the Italian champion, until the decisive break in the last lap.

“I am very happy, as I have finally had good feelings in the race, for the first time this year,” told Serena Calvetti, “even though Marika gave me a hard time. We are friends, we live close to each other, and it was nice battling with her today. In addition, I am back in the jersey I had won last year, and that I care a lot for.”

Marika Tovo also looked satisfied: “After a great season among Juniors, now in the Under 23 ranks I always start with the determination of giving the best of me, and trying for good results. Today I held on with Serena almost until the end, but I made a big effort for it and paid in the end: she was stronger than me. To have competed like that is a good sign though, and now I look forward to honor the Under 23 leader’s jersey.”

Giada Specia (ASD Velociraptors) grabbed the win in the Junior Women’s race, soloing on the finish line. The Italian youngster conquered the overall leadership. Second and third were Letizia Motalli (KTM-Protec Dama) and Patrizia Critelli (Team Zanolini Bike Waldner).

Specia finished with a smile on her face: “In spite of the advantage it wasn’t an easy race, but I really loved the course, that was actually amazing. I hope we’ll be back racing here soon.”

Simone Avondetto (Silmax Racing Team) claimed the opening race of Sunday’s programme, the Junior Men’s one, by showing up alone on the finish, at the end of four laps in which he put all of his rivals on the back foot with his pace, eventually dropping them one by one. At the first time on the finish line, a leading quartet featured Avondetto, Filippo Fontana (Gottardo Giochi Caneva), Zaccaria Toccoli (Focus Selle Italia) and Emanuele Huez (KTM Protec Dama), with the latter being the first to give up during lap 2. In the third loop, Nals’ winner Fontana also got dropped, leaving the fight for the stage win between Avondetto and Toccoli.

In the final meters, Avondetto managed to distance his rival by a few seconds, but enough to savour his second Internazionali d’Italia Series win after the one in Courmayeur in 2017. Zaccaria Toccoli was second ahead of Filippo Fontana, who still managed to hold on the red leader’s jersey designed by Northwave Custom Project.

“Today’s course was better suited to me than last week’s in Nals,” Simone Avondetto told, “and I managed to perform much better. I am happy and honored to be the first rider to have raised his arms in this race.”