Ale Avigliano - An Inspirational Downhiller
When the 2016 UCI Downhill World Championships take place this weekend in Val di Sole, Italy, there will be, as always, forerunners on the course ahead of the racers - downhill riders who make sure the course is clear of obstacles and provide a final safety check.
One of those riders for Val di Sole will be Italian competitor Alessandro Avigliano, also known as 'CarbonHook' because of the prosthetic he uses on the lower part of his right leg. That's right, Ale is a para-downhiller!
The 31 year old rider from Genova, Italy, explains, "Ten years ago I had a motorcycle accident and after three years of hard work in hospital I decided to have my leg amputated and create a new future, and try to get back on my beloved bike!!! In the last five years I have spent all my energy and all my time to realize my big dream...become a rider, a Downhill Biker."
"These two decisions have made my life completely different but especially positive, and I approach every problem just as a child does when learning to ride. The bike allows me to smile every day and never be stopped by a problem."
"I decided to practice downhill because it gives me a sense of freedom! Every morning I go out and I push my bike [uphill] for as much as four or five hours, and then enjoy a fantastic descent."
"This year I had the chance to race with an Italian Team (Bike O'Clock) and I took part in almost all the races of the Italian circuit, finishing every time in the first 20-30 places. Next year I would like to participate at all the Italian, German and Swiss Downhill Cup series."
Ale will join downhill legend Steve Peat as one of the forerunners for the World Championships. "To be able to race in the World Championship as a [forerunner] is for me a great achievement. It is the result of enormous sacrifices and everything will be surrounded by the presence of one of my idols, Steve Peat."
"Everyone should be inspired by Alessandro," says Aldo Bordati, President of Val di Sole Organizing Committee, "and by anyone who shows us the importance of having a positive attitude in our lives, not to let problems tear us apart but keep thinking and believing that there is always hope and a chance to win. This is the mountain biker's spirit."