Danilo Di Luca is back on the World Championships hunt after missing his chance last year and an early season focused on the Giro d'Italia. The 32 year-old Abruzzese of Team LPR seeks to double in the Giro del Veneto this Sunday to prove to Franco Ballerini that he is worth selection in the National Team.
"I am starting to go well. At Trittico Lombardo I went better and better everyday. I race the Giro del Veneto on Sunday, which I already won and confident of a double," he said to La Gazzetta Dello sport. He won the race in 2002 for Team Saeco.
If Veneto goes well, it could be Di Luca's ticket to the Worlds, September 28 in Varese. National Directeur Sportif Ballerini will make the nine-man team selection between September 10 and 12. Last year, Ballerini replaced Di Luca with Matteo Tosatto at the last minute due to a Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) investigation and eventual two-month suspension related to Oil for Drugs.
"I am still not at race-weight, but there still a month until the Worlds," continued Di Luca. "My build up will be calm. ... After the Giro del Veneto, I will race the Tour of Britain from September 7 to 14. It will give me a step up in quality. Finally, before Varese, I will race GP Prato on the 21st. Those doing the Vuelta a España will have something extra, but I will arrive with ideal form all the same."
Di Luca will complement some of the British racing days with motor pacing. He will ride 40 to 50 kilometres extra to simulate the 260-kilometre Worlds course.
He is confident his form will be on target and Ballerini will give a squadra azzurra invitation. "Franco and I don't have to talk much. He knows that I want to be at the top, so there are no problems. If I still have to prove myself at 32 years old... When I say that I will be ready I always am – you can count on me."
Gabriele Bosisio, Claudio Cucinotta, Giairo Ermeti, Jure Golcer, Daniele Pietropolli, Walter Proch, Alessandro Spezialetti, Raffaele Ferrara and Matteo Montagutti will support Di Luca in Sunday's 200-kilometre race. LPR Directeur Sportif Giovanni Fidanza confirmed the team's readiness. "We face a hard course and one with strong participants."