Franzoi to make return for 'cross season

Italian champion prepares for cyclo-cross season, new team for 2010

Italian Enrico Franzoi has begun preparations for the start of the cyclo-cross season after illness cut short his 2009 road programme with Liquigas. A stomach bacterium ended Franzoi's road season in May, but he will return to competition next month at the Treviso Cyclo-cross World Cup, before returning once again to the road with a new team in 2010.

"The road season was not great due to the bacteria, but I am excited to start the cyclo-cross season," Franzoi told Cyclingnews. "My road season is over and it is all about cyclo-cross now."

Franzoi's season on the road was severely disrupted by the illness and he said he had lacked the power of two years ago, when he finished eighth at Paris-Roubaix and helped Alessandro Ballan win Ronde van Vlaanderen.

His last race was the Vuelta a Catalunya, May 18 to 24. He had to stop riding completely before he could re-build his form. Instead of returning to road racing, Franzoi will begin his return at Italy's World Cup in Treviso October 4.

"I want to have a good ranking this season and point towards a World Cup win," he added. "I think my condition will be at its best near the mid-to-late [cyclo-cross] season."

Franzoi, 27, finished third in Middelkerke, second in Tervuren and won his national cyclo-cross championship for a fourth time last year. He is shifting his career towards cyclo-cross, unlike 2008 cyclo-cross World Champion Lars Boom.

"He has already won a lot on the road and it is smart for him to go further," said Franzoi. "It's hard to say how he will go in 'cross this season, we will see in Treviso. But there are always Sven Nys and Niels Albert to worry about."

Franzoi will continue with Italy's Liquigas team through December 31 and then switch to a new team. He said he had several offers, some from foreign teams, and plans to make a decision soon.

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