New Italian national coach Paolo Bettini was never one to mince his words and has criticised many of the riders that he is considering for the Italian national squad after they allowed Dan Martin (Garmin-Transitions) to steal the glory at Tuesday’s Tre Valli Varesine race.
Martin attacked with Domenico Pozzovivo (CSF-Colnago) in the final stages and dropped him on the rise to the finish line in Varese. Before then Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Farnese Vini) and Giovanni Visconti (ISD-Neri) had taken turns to attack but quickly chased each other down. Martin then timed his move perfectly and he was allowed to jump clear, denying the Italian riders a prestigious win on home roads.
“They’ve thrown this race away,” Bettini told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I know there are team strategies at play as well but it’s a pity when Italian riders mark each other too much and leave space to the foreign riders.”
Bettini was disappointed by one tactical failing in particular that would be fatal to Italy’s hopes of a rainbow jersey if repeated by his charges in Australia. “The Italians have to understand who their most dangerous rivals are,” he said. “I’d never have let Martin get away. He won the Tour of Poland ten days ago, they know he is one of the men who is most in form at the moment. I’m not saying they gave it to him, because he is strong, but they certainly made it easier for him.”
The form of Damiano Cunego is also a concern for the Italian coach. “For the Worlds, I’d need the real Damiano, not a Damiano half in form,” Bettini said. “He battled, but with the polish of his golden days he would have entertained us in a finale like that.” Cunego led the Italian team at the world championships in Mendrisio last year, finishing in 8th place.
The leadership of the Italian squad for this year’s race is still up for grabs, and the recent lack of results from many of the main contenders is a worry for Bettini.
“I’m sorry that races are lost like that, because when all is considered, the results are lacking. And without results, it’s even more difficult to designate roles.”