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Davide Cassani at the 1986 Tirreno-Adriatico.
Former rider to discuss vacant position of national team coach
Italian cycling federation president Renato Di Rocco is set to meet with Davide Cassani on Saturday to discuss the position of coach of the Italian national team, which has been left vacant following the resignation of Paolo Bettini last week.
The FCI announced on Friday evening that Di Rocco and Casssani will meet at the home of former commissario tecnico, Alfredo Martini, in Sesto Fiorentino, Tuscany.
“Having spoken on the telephone […] the federal president Renato Di Rocco and Davide Cassani have agreed to meet tomorrow in Tuscany,” read the FCI statement.
The 92-year-old Martini led the Italian team to six world titles during his twenty-two years at the helm, and was a key advisor to fellow Tuscans Franco Ballerini and Bettini during their spells in charge of the squadra azzurra. Cassani, currently a commentator for RAI television, was a respected professional, who served as Martini’s road captain, or regista, during the later years of his career, which came to an end in 1996.
The symbolic Sesto Fiorentino rendezvous would appear to mark Cassani’s anointment as new Italian coach, although formal confirmation will have to wait until late January, when the federal council next meets.
It remains to be seen, too, whether Cassani would take up the reins straightaway, or if he will remain in his RAI commentary position until after the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France before taking charge in time for the world championships in Ponferrada.
The day-to-day specifics of the role are also up for discussion, given that last winter, Bettini briefly appeared set to step into a supervisory role with Max Sciandri earmarked for the position of coach to the elite men’s national team.
In any case, Cassani appears the popular choice to take over from Bettini, who is rumoured to take up a managerial role with the new team being set up by Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso in 2015. A recent poll on the Gazzetta dello Sport website saw over 42% favour Cassani as Italian coach, ahead of Gianni Bugno (14%), his fellow RAI pundit Silvio Martinello (10%) and Michele Bartoli (8%).