Danilo Di Luca will be one of Italy's best bets when the World Championships are run on September 30 in Stuttgart. The 31 year-old won the Giro d'Italia earlier this year, and he also has proven abilities in one-day races, like with his win in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The Liquigas rider lines up for the GP Plouay this Sunday focused on building for the Worlds, but he will also have his mind on a new contract.
"I have a very strong team at my side," explained 'The Killer' to La Gazzetta dello Sport. He will line up in the 210.1-kilometre GP Plouay with Filippo Pozzato and last year's winner Vincenzo Nibali.
He last raced the course in 2005, the same year that he went on to win the newly introduced ProTour. Di Luca is once again trying to win the ProTour overall. "I want to gain key points for the ProTour [classification]. When I won it in 2005 the competition remained in the air until the end; it would not be bad to close the door early."
Italian National Directeur Sportif Franco Ballerini will be watching the race to determine how Di Luca's form is progressing. "I want to see him in France, it is a longer test and with very competitive rivals. He knows that he has to continue rising [in form]," Ballerini commented. The following day, September 3, he will also be interested in the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) hearing involving the rider.
There are suggestions he could make the jump from Liquigas to Lampre-Fondital. Di Luca's value has been elevated as a result of his race wins, and it has complicated contract negotiations with his current team.
Di Luca would join the side of 2004 Giro Champ Damiano Cunego. It would not be the first time that the two were paired, as they rode together at team Saeco from 2002 to 2004. Contract negotiations could be made easier as the two men share the same agent.
Lampre would have two riders for the Grand Tours in its ranks, and it would have to divide the Giro and Tour between the two. Cunego stated his desire to return to contest the Tour de France in 2008, this could free the team to ride in support of Di Luca for the Giro d'Italia. However, the team of Giuseppe Saronni will also be keeping its eye on the CONI investigation.