Filippo Pozzato won the Herald Sun World Cycling Classic Ballarat but admitted that the world championship warm-up race was just that, a practice run for next Sunday’s far bigger race when the world title will be up for grabs.
Pozzato beat Poland’s Maciej Bodnar, Carlos Guinez of Chile and Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland after the four riders jumped away from the key break on the final climb of the 120km race.
The race was all part of a long day's training for the Italians. They rode 95km before the race, completed the 120km race and then many of them did some motor pacing behind the team car during the 45km trip back to their hotel.
“If this is the race that counts, then now we’ve won, we can go home,” Pozzato joked to Gazzetta dello Sport.
“It’s not the result that counts but how we raced that is important. We understood each other really well in the race. We were all in the thick of the action and shaped the race as we wanted to and as we’d planned to do.
"We did it all without race radio and so that was a good test for that reason too. It’s important we work well together. We’re united and strong as a team. Everything looks in place for now, so lets see what happen. The world championships will be very different and a lot harder but we’re confident.”
New Italian national coach Paolo Bettini was also happy.
“It’s good when you win, whatever race it is. This win confirms that the team is ready. It wasn’t a big test because a lot of our real rivals weren’t here and those that were used it as a test of their form and a training ride. But it’s good that Pippo won.
“We decided to test our form on the hilly course. It was a tough course and the average speed was 43km/h, without any flat bits. The wind was a factor too and split the race with an echelon. We got used to racing without having radios and all the guys did well in that aspect. They proved they’re a team and worked well.”