By Gregor Brown
Italy's Enrico Gasparotto will contest races in Denmark and Portugal to prepare himself ahead of selections for his home World Championships squad, with the event being held this September in Varese. The 26 year-old Barloworld rider hopes that the form he obtains will help earn him a spot on Italy's highly regarded national team - the squadra azzurra.
"I felt like I had good legs in the Tour of Denmark. I finished 10th in the general classification," Gasparotto told Cyclingnews while on the team bus, winding its way through southern Spain, towards the start of the Volta a Portugal.
An escape on the final day of the Tour of Denmark to Frederiksberg spoilt his chances of stage result, as the team looked out for British team-mate Steve Cummings. Gasparotto made a brief appearance in his home country, at the GP Camaiore before being called to race in Portugal.
"We flew from Bergamo, landed in Sevilla [Spain] and are driving from there to Portimão, where the tour will start," said the winner of stage three and the overall in the Ster Elektrotoer.
Barloworld returned from the Tour de France last month without big results and with the threat that its sponsor will leave as a result of Moisés Dueñas' doping case. While Gasparotto had planned to spend the month of August near his new home base of Carnago in Varese, due to the team's limited numbers it called up Gasparotto, who recently signed with Lampre for 2009, to contest the Portuguese race.
"At the beginning of the year, the plan was that I would be in Italy for the Trittico Lombardo [on August 19-20 - ed.]. I wanted to do those races; I think that to go to the Worlds is important to have good results in Italy - not in Portugal."
Gasparotto hopes the 12-day Volta a Portugal will improve his form for his return to Italy. "Certainly, I will try to win some stages," he said. "My main objective is to try to win Giro del Veneto, Coppa Placci or Giro della Romagna. Those are the three races that are very important for going to the Worlds - to win, not to arrive second."
If all goes according to plan for Gasparotto, Italian National Directeur Sportif Franco Ballerini will call Gasparotto to race as part of the nine-man squadra azzurra in Varese next month.