Luca Paolini capped off a run of good form with third at the Italian national championships Saturday in Imola. He made the main escape group and sprinted to third place behind Filippo Pozzato and Damiano Cunego.
"I was only able to race a small number of races prior to the Italian championships, so I think this is a good result. Above all, because there were two big riders who finished ahead of me, but the win would have been something else," he told Cyclingnews.
It was Paolini's highest placed finish at the nationals. He finished fifth last year and eighth in 2003.
Paolini made a group of 17 riders that formed 52 kilometres from the finish in Sunday's race. He had the help of Acqua & Sapone teammate, Andrea Masciarelli, who pulled during the final two circuits of 15.3 kilometres.
"I was going well in the last five kilometres and was able to close the gaps to Alessandro Ballan and Vincenzo Nibali. I had a great condition and the sprint also went well."
Paolini knew his condition was on the rise thanks to the Tour de Slovénie. He finished second in the last stage of the four-day race
"I will now take a week off and then I will travel to Passo Stelvio to train at altitude. I will restart with Brixia Tour at the end of July."
Acqua & Sapone's Dario Andriotto and maybe Lampre's Enrico Gasparotto will join Paolini to train in the Italian alps. After his return to racing in Brixia, he will race GP Carnago, GP Camaiore and the Trittico Lombardo races.