Aru declines spot on Italian team for Worlds road race

Eight-rider roster features Nibali and Moscon

Claiming he's not feeling at his best, Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) has declined a spot on the Italian team for Sunday's road race at the 2018 UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck.

Aru raced at the Memorial Marco Pantani on Saturday, training for 60 kilometres before the start to train his endurance but was the second-to-last finisher in 54th place, 4:04 down on winner Davide Ballerini (Androni Giocattoli). The Italian one-day was Aru's first race since the Vuelta a Espana, where he finished 23rd overall after crashing heavily on a descent during stage 17.  

Italian national coach Davide Cassani had earlier confirmed Aru as part of a seven-rider group announced on September 17, with the final rider on the eight-man roster to be named after Sunday's Trofeo Matteotti race. Instead of naming one rider, however, both Gianluca Brambilla and Dario Cataldo have been added to the roster and Aru removed.

The revised Italian roster includes Brambilla, Cataldo, Damiano Caruso, Alessandro De Marchi, Gianni Moscon, Vincenzo Nibali, Franco Pellizotti and Domenico Pozzovivo.

"Unfortunately, my condition is not where I'd like it to be and, in all likelihood, would not allow me to honour my call up," Aru explained in a message posted on social media. 

"It's a difficult choice but I think it is right to leave room for those who can count on a better condition right now."

Aru's absence will put even more pressure on Moscon, who Nibali tipped as the leader of the team after claiming he also was not at 100 per cent after recovering from a broken vertebrae sufferd in the Tour de France. Moscon has been on a tear of good form as of late, winning Coppa Agostoni-Giro delle Brianze on September 15 and Giro della Toscana four days later. Most recently, he was third in Coppa Sabatini-Gran Premio citta di Peccioli on Thursday.

Nibali rode aggressively at the Memorial Pantani race on Saturday but later admitted he is still not at his best and said the Italian team should back Moscon on the hilly parcours in Innsbruck.

Italian roster for UCI Road Word Championships road race: Gianluca Brambilla, Damiano Caruso, Dario Cataldo, Alessandro De Marchi, Gianni Moscon, Vincenzo Nibali, Franco Pellizotti, Domenico Pozzovivo.

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