By Gregor Brown
Italian cyclo-cross specialist Enrico Franzoi will miss the Italian Cyclo-cross championships after injuries to his ankle forced him to take a break from competition. His ankle caused him pain during the World Cup in Hofstade on December 26, and while he finished 14th in the event, the injury which was sustained in a previous World Cup in Koksijde, forced him to return to Italy rather than continue racing in Belgium.
The Lampre-Fondital rider, who will transfer to Liquigas as of 2008, injured his ankle during a crash in the first metres of the Koksijde World Cup at the end of November. Franzoi explained his decision to La Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday. "I have to say that this problem worsens when I am running, while on my bike it is better. However, I have to remove any doubts."
The forced pause is a blow to the Italian Cyclo-cross champion, who has taken the Italian title every year since 2001 - first as an U23 rider, then in 2005-07 as an elite. However, the sacrifice is necessary if he wishes to make a good showing at the upcoming World Championships, January 27, in his home region of Veneto. Franzoi finished third at the World Championships in 2007, and the last time the Worlds were held in Italy (in Monopoli) Franzoi struck gold as an under 23 rider.