Some 200 cyclists from 15 countries are to take part in the races, which according to Rui Simão, head of the Aldeias de Xista (Slate Villages) tourism network, will go along "one of the most spectacular trails the country has to offer".

"It is a little over two kilometres, with an average gradient of more than twenty per cent, going from an altitude of about nine hundred metres to just under four hundred meters, at a very demanding pace," he explained.

According to Simão, the championships will bring "the best athletes from the sport to an area that for its terrain, conditions and equipment and infrastructures available is among the most competitive that Europe has, particularly at this time of year. "

"In addition… we have an exceptional climate and a very important culture associated with the different aspects of the sport, including workshops, tours with specialised programmes, transfers, specialised hospitality for the area of cycling, with suitably certified accommodation … to serve this audience," he said.

The race is part of the Cyclin' Portugal project, which recognises the Aldeias de Xisto as the country's prime destination for cycling, thanks to the quality of its infrastructure, competitive and leisure events, and programmes and services aimed especially at this audience.

In the 2018 championships, Portugala’s Francisco Pardal became an elite European champion and Tiago Ladeira secured the juniors gold medal. In the veterans category, Portugal amassed no fewer than seven medals.

The Downhill European Championships are being staged as a partnership between the Aldeia de Xistos network, which is hosting the competition for the second consecutive year (in 2018 it was in Lousã, next door to Pampilhosa), the Portuguese Cycling Federation and the tourist board for central Portugal.

On 1 May, on the eve of the European races, the Aldeias de Xista Classic is staged - a road-cycling test that counts towards the Portuguese Cup. It begins in Sertã and ends in Gondramaz (in the municipality of Miranda do Corvo), in the Serra de Lousã range.