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National coach Paolo Bettini says hello
Bettini remembers Franco Ballerini when naming the Squadra
Italian national coach Paolo Bettini has named the riders for the Elite men's road race at the world championships in Tuscany, with Vincenzo Nibali and Filippo Pozzato expected to lead a team of experienced riders in the difficult 272km road race on Sunday September 29.
Italy also named the other teams for the world championship, with Noemi Cantele, Giorgia Bronzini, Elisa Longo Borghini and Tatiana Guderzo leading the strong Elite women's team.
Bettini, twice a world road race champion during his own career, confirmed that Marco Pinotti and current Italian national time trial champion Adriano Malori will ride the Elite men's time trial on Wednesday September 25.
Bettini has named 11 riders in the Italian Squadra, with the final nine and two reserves to be decided closer to the road race.
The 11 are: Giampaolo Caruso and Luca Paolini (Katusha), Vincenzo Nibali, Simone Ponzi and Alessandro Vanotti (Astana), Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Filippo Pozzato, Michele Scarponi and Diego Ulissi (Lampre Merida), Ivan Santaromita (BMC) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar).
"I'm Tuscan and so this is a special world championships for me, for (fellow Tuscans and former national coaches) the late Franco Ballerini and Alfredo Martini, who wishes everyone good luck," Bettini said in the press conference reported by Tuttobiciweb.
"The road race route is hard but not super hard, it will all depend on how it raced. Nibali is without a doubt point of reference for us but we know he's not fast (in a sprint) and so there has to be an fast finisher with him who can win if a small group of riders reaches the finish."
Bettini hinted that Pozzato could be an alternative team leader after finishing fifth at the Gran Prix Cycliste de Montreal in Canada on Sunday.
"I've often criticised Pozzato, we all know he's got huge potential and he's had a roller coaster career. He's going well now and I've never seen him so focused. He was perfect in Plouay and rode well yesterday on a tough course."
Italy seems worried about the strength of Peter Sagan and several other illustrious names.
"To win we’ve got to beat them all," Bettini said.
"Sagan is a phenomenon and proved it yesterday (by winning alone in Montreal). There are also riders like Gilbert and Cancellara…."