Vincenzo Nibali and Gianni Moscon are set to lead the Italian elite men’s team at the Road World Championships in Innbsruck. National coach Davide Cassani confirmed seven of the eight-man squad at a press conference in Milan on Monday, with four riders in a short list for the final spot.
Nibali and Moscon will be joined on the team by Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), Franco Pellizotti, Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), Damiano Caruso and Alessandro De Marchi (BMC).
Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafred), Dario Cataldo (Astana Pro Team), Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) are in contention for the final berth, with a decision to be taken following this week’s series of four one-day races in Italy.
The Giro di Toscana is on Wednesday, with the Coppa Sabatini the following day, while the Memorial Pantani and Trofeo Matteotti take place at the weekend. An Italian selection will compete in each race.
The Innsbruck Worlds has been one of Nibali’s stated objectives since the start of the season, but his chances were compromised by the crash that forced him out of the Tour de France and left him with a broken vertebra. The Bahrain-Merida rider returned to action at the Vuelta a España but although he completed the race, he sounded a subdued note about his chances in Innsbruck, telling La Gazzetta dello Sport, “I’m not in the condition to make the difference and be able to win the Worlds.”
Speaking in Milan on Monday, Cassani insisted that Nibali could still play a prominent role on September 30 in Austria. Nibali will ride the Memorial Pantani on Saturday as his final build-up race ahead of the Worlds.
“I spoke with Vincenzo this morning, he’s tranquillo,” Cassani said, according to Tuttobici. “He won’t be the man to beat but he knows what he can give. We’ll decide together on what his role will be.”
Moscon made a winning return to competition on Saturday after the suspension he received for punching Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Oscar) on stage 15 of the Tour de France. The Team Sky rider claimed victory at the Coppa Agostoni in Lissone on Saturday. Cassani confirmed that Moscon will not ride the individual time trial in order to focus on the road race, but he lamented the suspension that ruled the rider out of the Vuelta. A year ago, Moscon was disqualified from the Worlds for taking a tow from Cassani's team car.
“I’ve been talking with him about the Worlds since March because I was convinced even then that he could be a leader for our national team,” Cassani said. “If he could have ridden the Vuelta, maybe he would be one of the big favourites. Now we know he doesn’t have the base that others have, so for that reason he won’t do the time trial and will do another long training ride [on the Wednesday before the road race] instead.”
Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo) and Alessandro De Marchi will ride the individual time trial for Italy.
The Italian team will rendezvous for a short training camp in Torbole in Trentino next Monday, before travelling to Innsbruck on the Thursday before the elite men’s road race
Italian women’s coach Edoardo Savoldi also unveiled his selection in Milan on Monday. Sofia Bertizzolo (Astana), Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5), Elena Cecchini (Canyon Sram), Erica Magnaldi (Bepink) and Soraya Paladin (Alé Cipollini) have all been confirmed for the elite women’s road race.
The final two places are yet to be assigned, with Tatiana Guderzo (Bepink), Elena Pirrone (Astana), Nadia Quagliotto (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) and Rossella Ratto (Cyclance) all in contention.
Longo Borghini and Pirrone will ride the individual time trial, with Marta Cavalli (Valcar PBM) named as reserve.
Italian team for UCI Road World Championships:
Elite men’s road race: Fabio Aru (UAE Emirates), Damiano Caruso, Alessandro de Marchi (BMC), Gianni Moscon (Team Sky), Vincenzo Nibali, Franco Pellizotti and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain Merida), plus one from: Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo), Dario Cataldo (Astana), Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe), Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida).
Elite men’s time trial: Alessandro de Marchi (BMC) and Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo).
Elite women’s road race: Sofia Bertizzolo (Astana), Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5), Elena Cecchini (Canyon SRAM), Erica Magnaldi (BePink) and Soraya Paladin (Alé Cipollini), plus two from Tatiana Guderzo (BePink), Elena Pirrone (Astana), Nadia Quagliotto (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) and Rossella Ratto (Cyclance)
Elite women’s time trial: Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5) and Elena Pirrone (Astana).