Avondetto: “My future? With three jerseys on my shoulders, there'll be a lot of sweating”

Exclusive interview with Simone Avondetto (Wilier-Pirelli Team), European champion and defending Italian U23 champion, and today Cross-Country World Champion in this same category, always with the Pirelli Scorpion XC RC tyres

Home Life People interviews Avondetto: “My future? With three jerseys on my shoulders, there'll be a lot of sweating”

The first thing you notice about Simone Avondetto are his feet, they're on the ground; then that he has a likeable and slightly bold look, with the smile of someone wearing the jersey of a world champion. We met him at the Italian Bike Festival, the Italian bike event held within the Misano circuit dedicated to Marco “Sic” Simoncelli, in early September.

His is the story of someone who just passed a curve with a bold attitude, and only now – with a surprised look – looks at the tyre marks left by his tyres: he is a cyclist with a newfound self-awareness.

His victory at the UCI MTB race (XCO U23 category), on the 28th August in Les Gets, France, gifted Italy with a victory that had been missing for 10 years. And the Italian flag had many reasons to fly: an all-Italian gold medal, won by an athlete from Turin, on Pirelli wheels and on a Wilier Triestina bike.

“Becoming world champion, and doing so with Italian partners, is a source of pride for everyone. It makes this feeling even more special”, Simone tells us while describing a child's dream coming true. This year, he has won everything in his category: the Italian, European and now also the World Championship, collecting an overwhelming number of jerseys. Anyone, with all these jerseys on, may be suffering from heat exhaustion in the next season.

Probably not him, though: “I'll move up one category and will have to start from scratch, start all over again. I know it will be tough. My success has made me self-aware, but we will do things slowly and well. Sure, I hope I can achieve good results also among the Élites, but without overreaching when it comes to my goals. I dream of reaching a good position in the World Cup and of qualifying for the European and World Championships, but I do realise that realistically this will take time”.

The wheel that crossed the finish line, in the Les Gets World Championship, wore a tyre with a large section: 2.4 inches. A recent trend, which also won over the athlete from Moncalieri (near Turin, in North-West Italy): “Since Pirelli made the 2.4” Scorpion XC RC available this has become my tyre of choice, unless it rains a lot. I use it in 9 out of 10 races. It has more air volume and offers greater comfort, and on a mountain bike smoothness is not everything: grip and rideability are crucial”.

Every victory requires first and foremost an athlete: their training, their story, character and ambitions. But there's also a technical side of this, which includes the frame, suspensions, brakes and, of course, tyres. Avondetto does not hide the importance of these components in mountain bike races. And he tells us that the trust that can be shown by a partner can fully unleash the potential of an athlete: “To win a World Championship, you need to work hard, but I would be presumptuous to say I was the only one who made sacrifices. Apart from one's training (which entails the work of many people apart from the athlete, and in this respect the Wilier-Pirelli Factory Team offers huge support), the vehicle is crucial. Pirelli brings great expertise to cycling; what they do in motorsport is incredible and they've re-entered the cycling world in great style. You can feel the determination to always take first place: it's the type of partner everyone would want.

In my case, working in close contact with technical suppliers, exchanging ideas and looking for solutions together makes the difference. And I get passionate about this way of working. With Pirelli I immediately found the tyres I needed: I really like the Scorpion XC RC. Over time we went from 2.2 to 2.4, and we have different casings to choose from, based on whether one needs protection from cuts, or alternatively lightness and smoothness”.

An athlete's safety and consequently their performance also depend on the relationship one has with one's technical partners and the team. Simone adds: “The connection one has with the vehicle and the materials to me is very important. If you know you are in safe hands when riding, especially downhill, where you will encounter technical problems more frequently, you ride confidently and you are relaxed. This allows me to perform better, it gets rid of a source of stress. I've never had problems with my bike or my tyres, and this peace of mind has helped me focus exclusively on what I had to do. It allowed me to give it my 100%”.

The commitment of the new world champion to product development is currently focused on a new Pirelli tyre, which will be created in the revamped Bollate facility, just outside Milan. Here's what Simone revealed about this part of his partnership: “The fact that Pirelli has its factory here allows us to experiment a lot and get immediate feedback. Doing everything in Italy expedites the process. This is the first time I'm involved in developing a tyre from the very first stages of its evolution, and it's very exciting. Pirelli has many ideas going right now, for every type of terrain, for different tyre volumes and with great importance attached to smoothness. These are already high-quality tyres, making them even better is no easy feat. I do however realise that a brand like Pirelli is constantly seeking new limits, in terms of lightness, smoothness, grip and protection from punctures. This type of company never stops planning its future, not even on the day it presents a new product. Expect some surprises!”.