Cassani names Nibali in Italian team for World Championships

Italian champion joins a team of classics specialists and sprinters, 11 riders travel to Richmond

Davide Cassani, coach of the Italian national team, announced on Thursday the 11 riders (nine participants and two reserves) who will cross the Atlantic to take part in the elite men’s road race at the World Championships on September 27 in Richmond, Virginia. Cassani made the announcement in a press conference following national road champion Vincenzo Nibali’s victory at the Coppa Bernocchi.

Nibali was thankful to receive a spot on the Worlds team saying in a report on Tuttobiciweb.it, “The maglia azzurra, for me, has always been something special and during these last few weeks I have spoken a lot with Davide.”

Nibali insists he is in top form for Worlds, despite missing out on the Vuelta a Espana after being disqualified on stage 2, and has proven as much with his recent accomplishments in Italy’s series of UCI 1.1 events where he took second place to Davide Rebellin at the Coppa Agostoni on Wednesday and the win at Coppa Bernocchi the following day. He will also race in the upcoming Memorial Marco Pantani on Saturday and the GP Industria & Commercio di Prato on Sunday.

“I’m happy for this selection and I’m satisfied with how these last two races went for me,” Nibali said. “For the World Championships, we have a lot of top riders, who are fast, but I think I can be helpful to the objective of the team in different roles.”

Cassani answered questions about Nibali’s role for the road race saying, “Nibali? We spoke a lot during these weeks and in the last two days of racing he showed to be on top and that he will be useful for the overall objective of the team.”

Nibali will be joined by a powerful team that includes Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff -Saxo), who has won stages in all three of the Grand Tours during his career, along with Diego Ulissi (Lampre - Merida), who won a stage at the Giro d’Italia in May and recently placed fifth at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec.

The Worlds course is thought to suit classics riders and sprinters because of the distance at 259.2km, and because the 16.2km urban circuit ends with a succession of three climbs over Libby Hill, 23rd Street and Governor’s Street before finishing on a flat run in to the line.

Thus the Italian team will feature a series of specialists including Team Sky’s Salvatore Puccio, a strong classics campaigner who is fresh off a second place in stage 14 at the Vuelta a Espana. BMC Racing teammates Daniel Oss and Manuel Quinziato, who won a stage at the Eneco Tour, are also on the list and will add to the team’s strength on the classic-style parcour, along with Matteo Trentin (Etixx - QuickStep).

The team will also include a series of sprinters with Trek Factory Racing teammates Giacomo Nizzolo and Fabio Felline, who won GP de Fourmies, along with Team Sky’s Elia Viviani (Team Sky), who won three stages at the Tour of Britain.

Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) was added to the roster as well after recently winning the overall title at the Tour du Limousin and placing in the top 10 at both Coppa Agostoni and Coppa Bernocchi. He was also 13th in the elite men’s road race in Ponferrada last year.

“We will come to America with Colbrelli because even if he was away from races for three weeks, he was strong and I can’t forget that last year he was the top rider from the national team [to finish Worlds],” Cassani said.

Two days ago, Cassani announced the 14-rider long-list but he was forced to cut three riders. Those who didn’t make the cut were Jacopo Guarnieri (Katusha), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC) and Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka). The latter two won stages at the Vuelta a Espana this year. “It’s the most difficult time for every national team director,” Cassani said. “I chose to leave home Sbaragli, De Marchi and Guarnieri.”

Italian time trial champion Adriano Malori (Movistar) and Moreno Moser (Garmin-Cannondale) will compete for Italy in the individual time trial held on September 23.

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