Italian national selector Franco Ballerini will be aiming to repeat the squadra azzurra's success from Zolder 2002, where the Italian team rode a great race to deliver Mario Cipollini to the line. That year, Alessandro Petacchi was one of Cipollini's lead out men; now, he is the top favourite in case of a bunch sprint.
After the Vuelta's fourth stage, which was won by Petacchi, Ballerini commented to Sportwereld.be that two wins in a row wasn't necessarily an ideal situation for him. "I would have preferred to see Tom Boonen win today," he said. "And in Cuenca, Erik Zabel. It would be very good for the squadra azzurra because we would have two countries that would be completely behind their sprinter. Still, for me Tom Boonen remains the rival of Alessandro Petacchi...Boonen is a very complete opponent. A man that in a race like that, can get with the right break, someone who can do it alone, and is still the biggest threat to Peta at the finish. You don't win the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Paris-Roubaix and a few Tour stages by magic."
Ballerini also commented about the Australian team, which he doesn't believe will help Italy and Belgium control the race. "We also can't count on Australia, because the sprinters will bite each other's heads off, although you have a 'McEwen corner' with 600 metres to go."