Italian National Directeur Sportif Franco Ballerini will arrive in Madrid this afternoon to follow a couple of the Vuelta a España stages. The two-time Paris-Roubaix winner is in charge of selecting the national team to compete at the World Championships in Stuttgart at the end of this month, September 30.
Ballerini is expected to confirm with current World Champion Paolo Bettini. 'Il Grillo Livornese' captured stage three of the Vuelta, and looks on form for the 2007 Worlds. In the same Quick.Step team is Andrea Tonti. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, the Italian is on Ballerini's list for the nine-man Squadra Azzurra.
Damiano Cunego was almost assured of his spot on the Worlds' team prior to his crash, and subsequent suffering in the Vuelta. Ballerini is expected to confirm the condition of the 2004 Giro d'Italia champion who crashed in the Vuelta's first stage.
Another favourite, also on team Lampre-Fondital with Cunego, is Daniele Bennati. The rider from Azzurro won the opening stage of the Vuelta and took the leader's maillot oro. Bettini has stated his desire to have 'Benna' selected for Stuttgart. Bennati, winner of the Tour de France's stage to Castelsarrasin after a long escape, could provide the Squadra Azzurra the needed sprint wildcard.
Finally, Davide Rebellin of Gerolsteiner will seek to confirm his place on the national team while Ballerini is in Spain.