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Franco Ballerini (Italian national coach)
Course open for attackers; Belgium favourite nation, says Italian
Italian technical commissary Franco Ballerini paid a visit to Melbourne's velodrome after studying the course of the Road World Championship to be contested in Geelong, Australia, on October 3, 2010. While he had previously described the circuit as "one for sprinters", the Italian elaborated on his impressions and finally concluded that the course did have tricky parts nevertheless.
"I heard from the comments of the Spanish coach that it was a very simple course but I don't see it this way," Ballerini told Cyclingnews this week. "It's like a classic in Belgium. I'd say it's similar to the finale of the Flèche Brabançonne."
The national coach found the course's second hill "interesting" with 600 metres at nine to ten percent gradient and the finishing line with a gradient of four to five percent. "It's very technical indeed and it will be necessary to keep fresh legs until the finale," Ballerini added.
External factors could also be decisive, the Italian said. "The wind will have a big role to play. The 250 metres of difference in altitude for each lap makes it a total of 2800 for the whole race which is not much compared to the 4000 or 4500 we've had in the previous world championships. But they are concentrated on the 11 laps. This excludes the 80 initial kilometres on line from Melbourne to Geelong. That can also make the race more complicated than people generally think.
"This is definitely not a course like in Zolder", said Ballerini in reference to the first Worlds where he brought the rainbow jersey back to Italy thanks to a team that escorted Mario Cipollini to the finish. "Mark Cavendish remains virtually the hot favourite but much will depend on how Great Britain will be able to keep the bunch together and it's a very inspiring course for many attacks to happen. I'd say the favourite nation is Belgium. It suits Tom Boonen but even more Philippe Gilbert if he comes with the form he had at the end of this season. It's open to many riders in fact."
Ballerini said the arrival of the Italian squad in Victoria was scheduled for September 22 or 23. He was also in favour of a warm-up race likely to be organised on a similar course one week prior to the professional road race.
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