For anyone interested in cycling, the name of the Italian resort Val di Sole immediately conjures up visions of high-level mountain bike competitions. A regular host of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, the valley in the north Italian region of Trentino-South Tyrol was voted best event of the series in 2018. It also organised the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships in 2008, the UCI Four-cross Worlds five consecutive years (2015 – 2019) and the 2016 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Championships in 2016. It will again host the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in 2021 and 2026.
So what of 2020?
Scheduled to welcome rounds of the Mercedes Benz UCI Mountain Bike World Cup (in September) and the UCI Trials World Cup (in July) as well as the 2020 UCI Four-cross World Championships presented by Mercedes-Benz, the organisers In Val di Sole were obliged to cancel all three events due to the current coronavirus pandemic.
However, far from being a wash-out year, Val di Sole reaped the benefits of the ever-growing popularity of mountain biking among the general population to register a record number of visitors this summer.
Between June and September, more than 56,000 cyclists enjoyed the Val di Sole cycling path which meanders 35km along the Noce river between Cogolo di Peio and Mostizzolo. Thirteen tool stations and charging ports along the cycling path makes it attractive to E-bikers, while train and bus services take cyclists back to their starting point if they do not wish to make the return journey by bike.
Meanwhile the two BikeParks – Pontedilegno-Tonale and Val di Sole – also enjoyed more popularity than ever in the summer of 2020. Although the latter was open just three weeks in August due to cableway maintenance, the two BikeParks saw 7000 bike passes sold between June and September. Tickets sold for Pontedilegno-Tonale were up 43% compared to 2019, with a 50% increase in day passes, 69% increase in weekly passes and a 40% increase in season passes.
Val di Sole Tourist Board Director Fabio Sacco attributed part of the region’s success to its history of hosting UCI events: “International events like the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships and the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup have significantly contributed to establishing Val di Sole as a remarkable mountain bike destination, particularly for gravity riders,” he said. “But there is more to it than that. Hosting major events has put us in the spotlight and given us the opportunity to create and promote a well-rounded mountain bike product that includes our spectacular trails and family-friendly activities.
“Despite the challenging year we are satisfied with the work done during the summer season in compliance with the anti-Covid regulations. Val di Sole confirmed itself as a beautiful destination to be discovered on two wheels.”
He added that the region continued to work on its trails network, with new tracks and novelties planned for 2021, including the new White Wolf track comprising flow sections, berms and jumps.
“We will make a further leap forward in 2021 when the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships will bring the world’s top athletes back to Val di Sole once again,” concluded Fabio Sacco.
Main photo: © Michele Mondini