The start lists for the first cup in Milan (Italy) for the World Cup Series final this weekend, July 21-23, will be strikingly similar to those for the World Cup in August in Valencia (Spain).
After stops in Athens (Greece), Sofia (Bulgaria), Tashkent (Uzbekistan) and Baku (Azerbaijan), the World Cup series is coming to an end in the northern Italian capital of style, where international competitors will weigh forces for a battle at the top before the planet’s championship.
19-year-old Sofia Rafaeli will renew her rivalry with Styliana Nikolova, the “fire gymnast”, who is outlined as one of Rafaeli’s main contenders. Both won two all-around titles on the World Cup stage this season and had very equal rivalry at the European Championship in May, where Rafaeli defeated Nikolova for silver in all-around.
Absolute European champion Boryana Kalain will be present to add a new distinction to the boiling Italy – Bulgaria race. Milan will be the first time the three will compete against each other since the European Championship. Calaine and Rafaeli won two titles at the World Challenge Cup in Cluj-Napoca last week.
The World Cup will feature a number of other contenders for the top 3 including Darya Vartholomeev (Germany), Victoria Onoprienko (Ukraine), who will be vying for the five individual podiums, but all eyes will be on Darya Atamanov (Israel), who returns to racing for the first time in nearly a year.
The 17-year-old, the winner of the European title in 2022. , she was set to make her World Cup debut last year in Sofia when she injured her leg warming up for her debut. She has not raced since.
In the ensembles, the absolute world and European champions Zenina Trashlieva, Sofia Ivanova, Camelia Petrova, Rachel Stoyanov and Radina Tomova join with new forces to win gold medals from the first World Cup in Milan.
However, the Italian city will face fierce competition worldwide, including in the face of the host ensemble, Brazil – the surprising gold winners in Romania, hot rivals from the People’s Republic of China, Israel, Spain and Japan.