Italy's technical director, Franco Ballerini, is already planning for the 2009 World Championships despite just over a month's time since winning the 2008 edition. He has in mind top riders for the expected difficult parcours in Mendrisio, Switzerland on September 27.
"There is no doubt it will be a hard course. ... At the end of this month I will go and have a look," said Ballerini to La Gazzetta dello Sport. He admitted it was early to talk of names, but agreed that Ivan Basso, Damiano Cunego and Danilo Di Luca were names that came to mind considering what he already knew about the course.
Cunego finished second to Alessandro Ballan in this year's World Championships. It was the fourth World Championship gold medal [Mario Cipollini won in 2002; Paolo Bettini in 2006-7 -ed.] for Ballerini as the team's head. He also directed the Italians when Paolo Bettini won the Olympic Games gold medal in 2004 in Athens.
He does not believe that there will be rivalry between his team's members, including Basso and Cunego, who barely tolerate each other. He recalled his first gold medal in 2002 when Alessandro Petacchi worked for team leader Mario Cipollini.
"They were two leaders and yet the match worked. The same can happen with Cunego and Basso. ... They can slaughter each other all year long, with their respective teams, but in the national team you race for the same flag and objective."
Ballerini, who saw part of the course during the Tre Valli Varesine, will examine specific aspects on his visit to Mendrisio. He will have a look at where the organizers will place the finish and other small details.
The 2009 national team will consist of nine riders, and Ballerini will select them in the weeks before the event. (GB)