Paolo Bettini has hinted that Damiano Cunego may lead the Italian team at the world championships in Valkenburg in September. Cunego has some previous on the route, having won the Amstel Gold Race atop the Cauberg in 2008. The climb features just 1.4km from the finish line of this year’s Worlds.
The national coach acknowledged that places in Italy’s five-man London 2012 Olympic team will be at a premium, however. Either Marco Pinotti (BMC) or Adriano Malori (Lampre-ISD) will take one of the berths as Italy’s representative in the time trial, while Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) may yet combine track duties in the omnium with a place on the road team.
“In London, the team is a little blocked up,” Bettini told Gazzetta dello Sport. “We’ll have five riders, but whoever does the time trial must also do the road race, while Viviani might also manage the double commitment. The Worlds course smiles on Cunego, so long as he manages himself well.”
Bettini is currently leading an Italian federation training camp at Venturina, near Livorno, which features a mixture of professional, under 23 and junior riders.
Pinotti, Malori and Viviani are among the professionals on hand in Tuscany, along with Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Enrico Battaglin, Marco Coledan, Sacha Modolo (all Colnago-CSF), Manuel Belletti (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Fabio Felline (Androni-Venezuela), Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM), Simone Ponzi (Astana) and Eugenio Alafaci (Leopard Trek).
“There will be two real training rides, tomorrow and Thursday, because Friday is the day before Strade Bianche,” Bettini explained. “But what happens out of the saddle will be much more important.”
“We have organised meetings with the federation’s research centre and with the Italian Olympic Committee’s school of sport. Meetings on preparation, training and objectives, and there’ll even be an educational game in English, ‘English for London’, with the Olympics in mind.”
Bettini also revealed that he and the riders would revisit a survey completed by the Italian team ahead of its unsuccessful 2011 world championships. “On this occasion, we’ll analyse it together. Questions on the group, objectives and relationships.”