Italian professionals will line up in exhibition races starting tomorrow on the 200-metre temporary velodrome at the 65th Milan bicycle trade show, EICMA. Fourteen truckloads of wood arrived last week to construct the track used as part of – Bikes4Show – a four-day event held inside the trade show's halls. Paolo Bettini, Filippo Pozzato, Alessandro Ballan, Yaroslav Popovych and Danilo Napolitano are some of the top 'roadies' expected to compete.
"Mamma Mia. It is better not to look," said Alessandro Ballan to La Gazzetta dello Sport when observing the banking of the short track. "Let's say, for a velodrome, it would be enough if I only rode the one at the end of Roubaix. Anyway, I will try to better myself – at least I hope."
Ballan, winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, will pair with Filippo Pozzato in the track events. "While we have come here we can still say 'Look, we still have not signed; there is still time to go home...,'" joked the winner of this year's Het Volk. "When you see the photos in the paper [the banking] does not seem so steep!"
Two-time Road World Champion Paolo Bettini will pair with his partner from last winter's Grenoble Six Day, Marco Vila. "Guys, at least we could put mattresses in the centre of the track. I have to say to my sponsor, Innergetic, that the slogan is ready: 'The mattress that saves the lives of trackies,'" he stated.
The track cost €300,000 to rent and construct, and the organizers think that the event will prove to be a success. The riders may be joking now but they will be professional as always when they suit up.
Danilo Napolitano, who twice has competed in the Worlds' scratch event, will use the test on his way to the 2008 Olympics. "It is really a beautiful track; it will be spectacular, you will see," said the Lampre-Fondital rider. "At the start of 2008 I will concentrate on the road, but thoughts of the Beijing Games will not leave my head."