The Cinque Mulini IAAF Cross Country Permit race will celebrate its 79th anniversary on Sunday 6 February in San Vittore Olona. One year before its 80th birthday the legendary Italian Cross Country race will change its traditional format for the first time in its history. The race which runs across the famous mills of San Vittore Olona will not be just an international race but will incorporate the European Cross Country Clubs Cup Championships.
The best European clubs from 24 countries will fight for the European Club title. It will be the 49th edition of this major Continental Club Championships which was inaugurated in 1962 in Arlon (Belgium). It’s the sixth time Italy plays host to the European Club Cross Country championships after Varese 1981, Clusone in 1982, 1987 and 1988 and Mantova in 2005.
The Spanish men’s team Bikila from Toledo won the European Club Cup last year ahead of the Italian team Fiamme Gialle in Bilbao (Spain). In the women’s contest the Russian squad Luch Moscow finished first last year ahead of Uskudar Belediyesi Spor Kulubu of Turkey.
This year the Bikila club will defend the 2010 title against host team Fiamme Gialle. The individual race will feature Ayad Lamdassem (Spain/Bikila Toledo) and Youssef El Kalai (Portugal/Grupo Desportivo Conforlimpia), who finished respectively second and third at the European Cross Country Championships in Albufeira on 12 December.
Likely also to feature are Andrea Lalli (Italy/Fiamme Gialle), former European Junior and Under-23 Cross Country champion and sixth at the 2010 European Cross Country Championships in Albufeira, veteran cross country runner Gabriele De Nard of the Fiamme Gialle, fourth at the 2001 European Cross Country Championships in Thun) and Andrew Vernon (Great Britain/Aldershot Farnham and District), second in the Under-23 race at the European Cross Country Championships in Brussels.
In the women’s team the favourites are European 5000 metres champion Alemitu Bekele (winner last year at the European Cross Country Club Championships in Bilbao) and 2010 European Under-23 Cross Country champion Meryem Erdogan, both from the Turkish team Uskudar Belediyesi Spor Kulubu.
Challenging will be Sara Moreira, European 5000 metres bronze medallist on the track in Barcelona and Ana Dulce Felix, European Cross Country bronze medallist in Albufeira 2010 and third at the 2010 Cinque Mulini, both representing the Portuguese club Maratona Clube de Portugal. Also to note is Spaniard Alessandra Aguilar Moran (Spain/FC Barcelona), winner of two top Spanish cross country races in Toledo and Llodio.
Host country team Esercito’s top name will be Elena Romagnolo, who enyoyed a good 2010 track season highlighted by the sixth place in the 5000 metres final at the European Championships in Barcelona but suffered from some physical problems during the winter which sidelined her from the European Cross Country Championships in Albufeira last December.
The Esercito, which is also represented by Nadia Ejjafini (fresh Italian Cross Country champion in Varese last weekend) and European 5000 metres Junior bronze medallist Veronica Inglese will aim at bettering the third place in the team’s ranking from last year in Bilbao.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF