VALKENBURG, Netherlands (VN) — Italy fine-tuned its green nine-rider team for the elite men’s world championship road race Thursday night. It includes a record seven men making their debuts in the UCI Road World Championships as pros and Vincenzo Nibali as the leader.
Eros Capecchi and Giacomo Nizzolo are on standby, and Nibali will count on Luca Paolini, Rinaldo Nocentini, Oscar Gatto, Moreno Moser, Diego Ulissi, Marco Marcato, Dario Cataldo and Matteo Trentin to back his run at rainbow stripes on Sunday. The average age of the team is 27.4 years.
“We are a young team; we have to focus on the young riders,” Nibali told VeloNews. “Sooner or later, our team will develop. It could work to our advantage; we are smart and know how to read the race. Look at Moser and Ulissi. Plus we have the experienced hands Paolini and Nocentini.”
Nibali last raced the worlds in Geelong, Australia, in 2009. Paolini and Nocentini have been around for years. Paolini raced for Mapei and Nocentini held the yellow jersey in the Tour de France in 2009. Since last year, though, Italy prohibits the selection of riders that have served a doping ban of more than six months or are being investigated for doping. The decision shaped Italy’s 2012 worlds team, eliminating a number of veterans from joining Paolini and Nocentini in Valkenburg.
Director Paolo Bettini thought about bringing former world champion Alessandro Ballan and multiple-time national champ Giovanni Visconti, but was unable due to their ties to open investigations. However, he is fielding potential stars like Moser, the nephew of Francesco Moser, who won the Tour of Poland this year as a neo-pro.
“I’ll have fun with my guys,” Bettini said. “These guys were part of my training camps that I’ve been having in the last two years. It’d be great to start to see the fruits of our labor. The rainbow jersey would be fantastic; the podium would be beautiful.”
The pressure falls squarely on Nibali’s shoulders. He has shown he is capable
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