Paolo Bettini and the Italian men’s road team arrived in London and are finialising their preparation ahead of Saturday’s 250km Olympic road race. It’s possibly not the strongest ever team to represent Italy at the Olympics but Bettini insists that while the team lacks a true leader, there’s plenty of talent to achieve a result.
"I think we can count on a good team. We're perhaps lacking an individual leader but we have a motivated, strong and united team of experienced men who are joined by young talents. Each of them can make a major contribution to the team and the race," said Bettini to La Repubblica.
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) will headline the team’s five-man roster with Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF Inox), Luca Paolini (Katusha), Marco Pinotti (BMC) and Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) looking to support the recent third-place finisher at this year’s Tour de France.
"The key man is, of course, Vincenzo Nibali. Not only did he do well at the Tour, he has done great things in one-day races on courses not properly suited to his characteristics, this demonstrates great maturity," Bettini said.
Nibali will start the race as the leader but he’s not supported by simply a group of mere domestiques. Bettini is confident in each of the four others and has one more rider on call, track representative Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale), if any fitness problems arise before Saturday.
"Modolo was second behind Mark Cavendish at the test event last year," Bettini said. "Paolini is experienced, knows how to sacrifice himself for the team but can also lead if asked, Pinotti is a great asset for the time trial and has the experience while Trentin is young and has already proven himself in many races. Viviani is one more who has qualified for the omnium and is included as a reserve. We’ll choose the five riders by the Friday morning deadline."