Colbrelli proves he's ready for sprinter's role at World Championships

Nibali recovering from crash as countdown to worlds begins for Italian team

Sonny Colbrelli proved that he deserved his place in the Italian team for the Men's Elite road race, with back to back victories at the Memorial Pantani and the GP di Prato at the weekend.

The Bardiani-CSF rider was selected ahead of Filippo Pozzato for the 11-rider Italian team, and is expected to be part of the final 9-rider team that will start Sunday's road race in Ponferrada. He is the only sprinter in the Italian team, while Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru, Giovanni Visconti and Alessandro De Marchi are expected to lead an aggressive race strategy aimed at eliminating big favourites John Degenkolb (Germany), Michael Matthews (Australia) and Nacer Bouhanni (France).

Colbrelli raced with a mixed Italian national squad at the GP di Prato.

“It's great to win two races in just 48 hours and winning in the azzurra jersey is a special emotion,” Colbrelli said.

“It's a way to thank Italian national coach Davide Cassani for selecting me and for the riders in the Italian team who rode for me. Seeing riders like Nibali, Aru and Visconti work for me was a huge honour. I think the unity we showed in these races gives us a lot of faith for the World Championships next Sunday.”

Cassani tried to ease the responsibility on Cobrelli's shoulders by warning him that the 254km World Championships road race will be a much harder race. However, Cassani is quietly hoping that Colbrelli can secure Italy a medal if the sprinters teams control the race.

Italian team leaders Vincenzo Nibali and Giovanni Visconti both tired to show some form in the weekend races were slowed by illness and injury. Nibali has a nasty bruise and scare on his left hip after crashing at the Tre Valli Varesine last Thursday, while Visconti has been fighting a sore throat.

“I didn't feel good at Cesenatico (for the Memorial Pantani) but thing went better at Prato and I've worked a lot, only sitting up in the finale,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport.

Visconti insisted he will be ready for Sunday's road race.

“After a few day suffering with seasonal problems, I feel like new. Home roads always help,” he tweeted after racing near his Tuscan home in the GP di Prato. “I'm optimistic, I'll be at my very best for the world championships,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.”

The 11 riders selected for the world championships will gather in Bra, near Turin on monday night for a brief training camp. They will travel to Spain on Wednesday and be based in Leon, 100km from Ponferrada until the night before the road race.

 

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