European Cup visits Italy
Anyone who has ever visited Pila or has taken part in a race there knows exactly how unique the view from the small town above the 35,000-inhabitant city of Aosta is. From Pila you have a magnificent view of some of the highest peaks in the alps, like the Monterosa and the Matterhorn up to the roof of Europe, the Mont Blanc.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, like almost every race, the event in Pila had to be canceled in 2020. It is encouraging that the season has almost been normal so far and that we can now look forward to the next race in the premium racing series. This year the iXS Europa Cup will be held for the seventh time in Pila, Italy.
Athletes that raced here in the past are already familiar with this demanding racetrack, Pila is challenging and versatile. In this year’s edition, the athletes have to conquer a distance of 2,700 meters in length and 460 meters in altitude. High-speed passages, steep sections, extended root sections, fun-designed berms and beautiful jumps are what gives the track its special character. Pila is one of the most popular racetracks for many pro athletes and some people even want this place to be back in the Downhill World Cup, which once again underlines the demands of the various venues of the European Cup.
26 nations are represented in this year's starting field. Among them the favorites of the second iXS European Cup, from the race in the Austrian Brandnertal, Noel Niederberger (SUI - Privateer Powered by Bike Tech) emerged as the winner in the Elite Men category. This time he will start again and surely wants to defend his place on the podium. Behind him in the standings is Davide Palazzari (ITA - Rogue Racing After Skull) after the first race of the series. At the moment he is only seven points behind Niederberger in the overall. Pila gives him the chance to catch up on this small gap in points. Another serious competitor for the two will be Matt Walker (GBR - Madison Saracen Factory Team). The Briton has had several podium places in the World Cup in his racing history. Another contender for a place on the podium could be Rémi Thirion (FRA - Giant Factory Off-road team), who finished third at the Downhill World Championships in Leogang last year.
The 17-year-old Bulgarian Izabela Yankova (BUL - Riders United) is the favorite of the Elite Women. If she manages to be on the podium in Pila, it would be her 15th race in a row in which she is on the podium. What an amazing success for Yankova! The Italian Alia Marcellini (ITA - ASD Camping Arizona) may be able to use the advantage in her home country to get even closer to the time of the young Bulgaria.