The Tuscan team wins the Opitergium Trophy – European Road Race Under 20, leading the Italian team to a splendid team success. Benzoni silver, men’s team bronze
(16.09.2023) Margherita Voliani and the Italian women’s team climb to the top step of the podium in the Opitergium Trophy – European Road Race Under 20. For the Italian team, in the afternoon on the streets of Oderzo, also Stefano Benzoni’s silver and bronze of the men’s team in the classification won by France. The Treviso town, with its charming historic center and the Torresin, the characteristic clock tower, which stands out in Piazza Grande, hosted the sixth edition of the now traditional road race catwalk for national under 20s. Eleven European teams to compete on the fast city track. In addition to Italy, the teams from Armenia, England, France, Malta, Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine will be at the start. The Opitergium Trophy – European Road Race Under 20 was born in 2017 and every year, even after the pandemic seasons, it does not fail to offer emotions and opportunities for comparison, not only technical, to many young people, about to appear on the most prestigious stages .

MEN’S RACE – The afternoon starts with the men’s race which, over a distance of 10 km, crowns the Romanian Dragos Luca Pop (30’36”), already protagonist in the initial part of last year’s race. Excellent silver for Stefano Benzoni from Atletica Valle Brembana from Bergamo (30’42”), active at the head of the group until the final forcing by the Romanian. Third was the Serbian Aldin Catovic (30’44”). Three Frenchmen among the top eight (fifth Nils Serre Gehri, sixth Pierre Boudy, eighth Sven Durand) give the transalpine national team the victory in the team classification (1h32’38”), an encore of the 2022 edition, while Italy – with the tenth place of Francesco Ropelato (31’08”) and the fifteenth of the Treviso Andrea Botteon (31’37”) – she is third (1h33’27”), preceded by a handful of seconds also by Spain (1h33’23”) , but ahead of Romania in the sprint (1h33’30”). It is the French who dictate the pace, at paces which are not transcendental, in the first laps around Piazza Grande. Among the most enterprising, Serri Gehri, a 29’23” triathlete in the 10 km road race, and Pierre Boudy, silver in the 3000 steeplechase at the last under 20 European Championships. In the group, always vigilant, Stefano Benzoni from Bergamo (Atl. Valle Brembana) , junior tricolor in the 5000 meters and fourth in Oderzo in 2022, who also takes the lead in the race with five laps to go. The pace rises, also thanks to the push of Dragos-Luca Pop, also applauded by the great former Romanian athletics player, Gabriela Szabo. Pop pulls ahead at the end of the last lap and Benzoni gives up, finishing in second place in a race worth remembering. “I’m not a great finisseur – the words of the Bergamo native – I was hoping for a close race from the start like it was last year. It was not so. Pop had more legs at the end, there was nothing to do. But I’m still happy.”

WOMEN’S RACE – Margherita Voliani (Libertas Unicusano Livorno) was the great protagonist of the women’s 5 km race. The Tuscan, Italian junior champion of the 5000 meters, led the group of the best for a long time, gradually determining the selection. At the beginning of the last lap the challenge for the victory became a three-way affair between the Italian, the Serbian Mejra Mehmedovic and the Swede Elsa Sundqvist. Mehmedovic is the first to appear on the final straight under the Torresin, but Voliani does not give up, catches up and overtakes her rival in the last meters (16’41” for her, 16’42” for the Serbian) bringing Italy to the top step top of the individual podium. An uncertain finish until the last meter which also lays the foundations for the team triumph of the Italians, completed by the ninth place of Elena Ribigini (17’15”) and the eleventh of the Belluno native Lucia Arnoldo (17’17”). “Today my legs worked like a charm, I believed in it until the end and I was rewarded”, commented Voliani. Italy therefore first (51’13”), Sweden second (51’23”) and England third (51’30”). In the newly established combined ranking, which adds the men’s and women’s results, France first (2h24’37”), Italy second by a whisker (2h24’40”) and England third (2h25’24”) .

RESULTS. Opitergium Trophy – European Road Race Under 20. MEN (10 km): 1. Dragos-Luca Pop (ROM) 30’36”, 2. Stefano Benzoni (ITA) 30’42”, 3. Aldin Catovic (SRB) 30′ 44”, 4. Esteban Patino Ramirez (ESP) 30’45”, 5. Nils Serre Gehri (FRA) 30’48”, 6. Pierre Boudy (FRA) 30’49, 10. Francesco Ropelato (ITA) 31’08 ”, 15. Andrea Botteon (ITA) 31’37”, 21. Francesco Mazza (ITA) 32’06”, 27. Alessandro Morotti (ITA) 32’51”. Team ranking: 1. France 1h32’38”, 2. Spain 1h33’23” 3. Italy 1h33’27”. WOMEN (5 km): 1. Margherita Voliani (ITA) 16’41”, 2. Mejra Mehmedovic (SRB) 16’42”, 3. Elsa Sundquist (SWE) 16’49”, 4. Ebba Broms (SWE) 16 ’59”, 5. Rebecca Flaherty (ENG) 17’01”, 6. Libby Huxley (ENG) 17’03”, 9. Elena Ribigini (ITA) 17’15”, 11. Lucia Arnoldo (ITA) 17’17 ”, 17. Adele Roatta (ITA) 17’30”, 31. Emma Cavallari (ITA) 18’13”. Team ranking: 1. Italy 51’13”, 2. Sweden 51’23”, 3. England 51’30”. Opitergium Preview. Men’s Allievi/juniors (5 km): 1. Fabio Kleiss (Atl. Mogliano) 9’42”, 2. Tommaso Angelin (Atl. Mogliano) 10’01”, 3. Masssimo De Marco (Dolomiti Belluno). Female Allieve/Juniors (3 km): 1. Chiara Pedol (Dolomiti Belluno) 10’31”, 2. Lorenza De Noni (Atl. Silca Conegliano) 10’37”, 3. Alessia Miniutti (Gs Astra) 11’17” .

Attached, photos of the event (credit ATLETICALLY/ORGANIZERS)