Marco Pinotti is part of the powerful HTC-Columbia line-up at this week's Tour of Britain as he fine-tunes his form for the world championships in Australia, where he hopes to ride the time trial and, for the first time in his career, the road race.
As Italian national time trial champion, the softly-spoken but totally dedicated rider from Bergamo is sure of a place in the time trial. But he is convinced he has the ability and experience to play a key role in the nine-rider Italian "Squadra" in Melbourne. He is hoping for a double call-up from Paolo Bettini next Tuesday morning when he officialises this year's Italian team.
Pinotti would usually focus specifically on speed work for the time trial but is riding the weeklong Tour of Britain to give him a last block of intense road racing.
"I think I've done enough to deserve a place and I think Bettini knows that. We've spoken quite a bit in recent weeks and he knows can trust me to do any job he decides to give," Pinotti told Cyclingnews.
"I've been working on both my time trialing and my road racing endurance. Before I came to the Tour of Britain, I spent a day in the Mercedes Gran Prix wind tunnel near the Silverstone motor racing circuit, fine tuning my time trial position. I had a half a day and Tony Martin had the other half. We both made some minor adjustments that we hope will help us gain a few extra seconds for Melbourne. I've specifically tweaked my position for my Scott time trial bike and I've narrowed my arms a little."
"After finishing fifth last year, I think I've got a chance of a medal in Melbourne. Obviously Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin will be fighting for the world title but third place is wide open."
Pinotti admits this is his first trip to Britain since he came as a teenager with school in 1995. He was a little shocked about the British weather in mid-September and was surprised to have woken up overlooking a football pitch following a night in the hotel that is strangely built into Bolton football stadium.
"It's funny but it's true. I've raced all over the world but never in Britain 'til now. It all seems a little strange, especially riding on the left but I'm looking forward to it," he said.
"Hopefully the Tour of Britain will give me a final base before I do some final specific TT work in Australia. I know the finishes will be fast and often end in sprints. I'll be riding to help the other guys but it'll help my power and speed. We're also planning to do some extra riding after the stages when it fits in with the transfers and racing. We want some results but this is also vital world championships preparation."