My three days riding with Paola Pezzo in the Dolomites - thanks to a press trip for European travel journalists - were excellent. And the two times Olympic XC MTB champion is a credit to her sponsors

Sponsorship pays

Paola Pezzo won gold medals at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics and, to celebrate, her many sponsors have decked her out in gold-coloured kit.

Gold Gary Fisher bike. Gold North Wave shoes. Gold Castelli tops. Gold Limar helmet.

At 32 she’s taken a break from training and racing and is spending a ‘sabbatical’ year as a one-woman promotions unit. Before the press trip organised for a bunch of biking travel journalists by the Trentino tourist board, she had ridden just five times since the Sydney Olympics.

And she got her legs ripped off by a bunch of German bike journos and a writer from the Czech Republic.

She was happy to let others do the hard riding.

Instead of leading from the front, she hung back and encouraged those of the 23 journalists who were new to cycling. She was a credit to her sponsors, never flinching when almost all of the journalists took photos of her; always available for little chats.

And she was a credit to the Trentino tourist board too. They hired her because she comes from the area (the mountains north of Lake Garda), still lives there and believes the 7000km of mountain bike tracks in the area represent an MTBer’s Mecca.

Indeed, on our little trip we only scratched the surface of what the region has to offer for MTBers. From lakeside bike trails to high Alpine meadow crossings; and from tortuous, scenic singletrack to high-altitude forest roads with views to die for, the Trentino region would make for an ideal holiday destination for the enthusiast MTBer (sick, perchance, of the UK’s FMD access restrictions).

And there’s every chance you’d get to see Paola Pezzo: she does 90 percent of her training on the tracks above Lake Garda.

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