Italian coach Paolo Bettini has promised that his team will go on the offensive in Sunday’s world championships road race in Valkenburg. After a disappointing showing in Copenhagen last year, the squadra azzurra is determined to bounce back, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) leading the line.
“No, you won’t see the team playing catenaccio – we’re not interested in shutting down the race like in the past. We have to break the race open,” Bettini told Gazzetta dello Sport. “We don’t have a Gilbert or a Valverde, the kind of athlete who you can bring to the foot of the Cauberg and give him the responsibility of getting a result with reasonable certainty that he will deliver.”
Instead, Bettini will ask his youthful line-up – riders with past doping suspensions and riders currently under investigation were not considered for selection – to be “a bit rebellious” and go on the attack.
“If you wait, you risk having regrets,” he said. “It’s better to be at the front instead of following. The team is young but it knows how to race. I’ll tell everyone: ‘Have a go.’”
Vincenzo Nibali’s strong showing on the Cauberg in Sunday’s team time trial offered some timely encouragement to the Italian squad. Bettini had seemed unconvinced by the Sicilian’s potential to lead the team in Valkenburg earlier in the season, but Nibali’s consistency in the classics impressed the national coach.
“He’s not just a rider for the grand tours anymore, he showed that at Milan-San Remo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where he took risks to try and win,” Bettini said. “The harder the race is, the better it is for him.
“These Worlds could be really very open. I really believe in the team I’ve put together. There’s nothing to lose and nothing to fear.”