Danilo Di Luca will target the World Championships in 2009. The Italian from Pescara wants to add the prestigious rainbow jersey to a palmarès that includes the Giro d'Italia and several important one-day classics.
"It is the win that I am missing. I am at the right age and the course is suitable," said Di Luca, 32, to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The rider known as 'The Killer' sat out the last two editions of the World Championships. The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) kept him busy in 2007 with its Oil for Drugs investigation and the technical director, Franco Ballerini, opted for a team built around Paolo Bettini this year.
"Ballerini made me a promise and I expect the next national team to be set up around me. The presence of Bettini this year was certainly an obstacle."
The World Championships will take place September 27 in Mendrisio, Switzerland, and Di Luca will build his early season around the Ardennes Classics and the Giro d'Italia. He won the Giro in 2007 and his LPR Brakes team should be invited by organiser RCS Sport for 2009. Last year, however, the team was not invited to the important Ardennes Classics despite his win in the 2007 Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
"I don't see any problems because we are abiding by the Biological Passport. This year was difficult because there was not the requested wildcard for the ProTour races. ... My races are the Amstel [Gold], Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. To also repeat at the Giro like in 2007, but I am more interested in the Worlds."
Di Luca will face a new challenger at the Giro d'Italia. Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong will ride the race for the first time, joining the usual rivals of Damiano Cunego, Ivan Basso and Gilberto Simoni.
"I am not afraid of Basso or Armstrong on the climbs. I know I can battle Ivan and I am curious to face the American, even if in the time trial I will pay dearly."