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European Downhill Championship: Pampilhosa da Serra’s track “is like a World Cup track”

European Downhill Championship: Pampilhosa da Serra’s track “is like a World Cup track”
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It’s unanimous: Pampilhosa da Serra has natural conditions which are unique for the practice of this sport.

For the second consecutive year, the Aldeias do Xisto hosted the European Downhill Championship. After taking place in Lousã in 2018, this year it was Pampilhosa da Serra’s turn to host the European competition on the calendar of Cyclin’ Portugal, which recognises the Aldeias do Xisto as an excellent area for the practice of all kinds of cycling.

Between 2nd and 5th May, about 200 athletes and their entourages descended upon Pampilhosa da Serra, bringing much excitement to this mountain village.

 


“There’s been a lot more coming and going these days”, explained Telma Custódio, resident of Pampilhosa da Serra, maintaining that it is always good for the town to welcome events that bring in people and advertise the best that the region has to offer. “We usually host the National Downhill Championship and, as a rule, the athletes’ opinion is that we have great tracks for the sport”, she tells us.
 

 

The testimony of the new European champions is in a similar vein. "I am very satisfied with my performance on this really demanding track, both in physical and technical terms. It’s a trail like the World Cup trails”, says the Frenchman Baptiste Pierron, who won the men’s elite title. “Difficult” was the adjective chosen by the Swiss, Camille Balanche, who won the women’s event.

Heiko is German, but has been living in Portugal for some time. In the company of his wife and two friends, he left Vila Facaia for a few days and headed to Pampilhosa da Serra to follow this European event close up. A practitioner of Enduro who has taken part in various championships, this is his first visit to the region. Looking at the “beautiful landscapes”surrounding the place, he has no hesitation in stating that Pampilhosa da Serra is an area with “enormous potential for cycling and also for hiking”. Besides this, “it is always a good way to contribute to the local economy”.

 


Paulo Amaro, a cyclist from Mortágua, is of the same opinion and says that “these events should always take place in the Countryside”.

The consensus regarding the quality of Pampilhosa da Serra’s trails shows that all the efforts of Aldeias do Xisto and Pampilhosa da Serra Council are bearing fruit.

We want to position ourselves as a cycling destination and all these events are essential. The European Downhill Championship demonstrates the Aldeias do Xisto’s organizational capabilities and spotlights our natural heritage. It is an extraordinary event that helps us to position ourselves in this product, the bicycle, whether for leisure use or competition”, says the head of ADXTUR - Schist Villages Tourism Development Agency, Paulo Fernandes.

“Pampilhosa da Serra has been seeking to develop itself as a destination for nature tourism. We do not have monasteries, or castles, but we do have unique natural conditions that enable us to explore the sporting side, be it cycling, walking or canoeing”, emphasises the Deputy Mayor of Pampilhosa da Serra. Jorge Custódio points out that one of the great assets is the “mountain slopes that end right in the centre of the village, something that is unique” and recalls that, in recent years, the Council has hosted the National Downhill Championship. “Hosting the European Championship is the cherry on the cake and a reward for all the effort that has been put in”.

Besides the prominence it gives the council,“it’s an event that stimulates local businesses and the local economy”, and this is possible thanks to our collaboration with bodies such as ADXTUR. “In areas with these characteristics, only through such collaborations can we make things happen”, he argues.

Andreia Gonçalves

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