By Jean-François Quénet in Pilsen, Czech Republic
Liquigas' Roman Kreuziger is looking forward to next week's World Championships with a touch of nostalgia. He went back to his parents' place in Pilsen, Czech Republic, where he usually only spends the month of October, after the Tour of Missouri where he finished 7th overall. He has called the shores of the Lago di Garda in Northern Italy home since he won the Junior world championships in Verona in 2004. He has almost never left Italy except to race since taking up residence there in Bardolino.
"Italy is my second home, so a World championship in Italy is different from any other one for me," he said after completing the Czech classic Karlovy-Praha in 11th place under the colours of his national team. "My feelings are very high for a world title in Italy. Since I won it last time, I want to do well again."
A winner of the Tour of Switzerland, second in the Tour of Romandie, 13th and second best young rider at the Tour de France, Kreuziger doesn't express too big ambitions in Varese though. "I haven't raced the Tre Valli Varesine nor the Giro d'Italia which had one stage finishing there, so I don't know the course," he said. "And I don't have the same good legs as at the Tour de France anymore. So I'll go without precise goals. Imagine if I said I'd go for a ten, the media would 'eat' if I had to pull out! I am motivated, there's no doubt about that, but I'm not sure I can produce the result I'd like to."
The Czech Republic will only line up three riders: Kreuziger, Frantisek Rabon and Martin Mares. "It's going to be an interesting battle between Italians and Spaniards," Kreuziger added. "Italians have to win at home but Oscar Freire will be very close to where he lives as well. Fabian Cancellara might give them a hard time. He's always dangerous and they will not drop him off on such a course."
Although his friend and teammate Vincenzo Nibali urges him to come and give a hand at the Tour of Lombardy, Kreuziger's end of the season is unsure. The world championship might be the last race of the 22-year-old despite his undisputed passion for racing.