The final entries are now available here for the 2017 European Mountain Running Championships, which will be staged in the Slovenian town of Kamnik on Saturday 8 July.
The Italian men’s team, who have won the team title every year since 2002 when the event came under European Athletics auspices, does not include either of the Dematteis brothers, Martin and Bernard, who were first or second 12 months ago but the four men who finished directly behind them will be on the start line.
Turkey’s Ahmet Arslan, who won six consecutive continental titles between 2007 and 2012 and was third last year, should once again be a challenger for medals.
Great Britain’s Andrew Douglas, Italy’s Cesare Maestre and Czech Republic’s Jan Janu were the next three men home behind Arslan and will be bidding to climb the podium this time after just missing out in 2016.
Italy’s Daniel Pattis finished fourth in the men’s U20 event last year and is the leading runner from 2016 still young enough to run in this year’s U20 race.
Austria’s four-time former European champion Andrea Mayr, who won on three consecutive occasions between 2013 and 2015, heads the list of women’s entries.
Mayr is also the defending world mountain running champion, a title she has won no less than six times.
If she is to be challenged by anyone then her rival is likely to be wearing a blue vest as the Italian women will also be favourites for this team title, perhaps even more so than their men for once, defending a crown they have won six times in the last eight years.
Former world champion and 2016 European silver medallist Alice Gaggi is the name that leaps out of the list of Italian entries but she will be accompanied by the in-form Valentina Bellotti, who showed impressive form last month when winning the Bolognano-Monte Velo race, the opening leg of the World Cup on home soil in Arco and the site of last year’s European Mountain Running Championships, beating Gaggi by more than two minutes.
Also in the Italian team is Sara Bottarelli, third last year, so Italy are able to field their scoring trio from 2016.
Great Britain’s Heidi Davies was third in the 2016 women’s U20 race and is the leading runner from 12 months ago who is still eligible to run in this category.