Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is nearly assured of a spot in Italy's team for the World Championships, September 27. The Italian Champion won yesterday's Giro del Veneto in front of national director Franco Ballerini, 16 days before the team selection is finalised.
"I had made an appointment here with Ballerini, and I was punctual," Pozzato told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Pozzato formed a winning move with three other riders by attacking on the Valico climb, 15.6 kilometres to race. The four – Pozzato, Alessandro Proni, Carlo Scognamiglio and Luca Paolini – arrived with 18 seconds advantage.
Proni anticipated the sprint with an attack. Pozzato remained calm and helped reel in Proni to then win ahead of Scognamiglio in Padova, Italy.
It was a decisive victory for Pozzato, his third of the year. Ballerini has to build his first ever national team without double World Champion and 2004 Olympic Champion Paolo Bettini, who retired last year.
Ballerini will select his nine-man team (and two reserves) on September 14. He will likely lead the team with 2008 winner Alessandro Ballan and silver medalist Damiano Cunego, but now has another rider to rely on.
"It will be a different national team, without the guiding light [Bettini - ed.]," said Pozzato. "The team will be just as strong, with the reigning champion and vice-champion. And then Ballerini is great at finding the right spirit."
Pozzato first competed at the Madrid Worlds in 2005, and helped Italy win with Bettini in 2006 and 2007. He missed out on the selection for Varese last year.
"If there is also space for me in the national team, I will try to honour the jersey and responsibility," he said.
This year's course in Mendrisio, Switzerland, will be harder than last year's 17.35-kilometre circuit in Varese, Italy. The circuit has two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano, in a short 13.8-kilometre circuit repeated 19 times.
Pozzato will continue his preparations for Worlds and the end of the season. He returned to Livigno, Italy, for 10 to 12 more days of altitude training before the Tour of Britain, September 12 to 19.
"I have never worked so hard, and well, like this year. My goal is to have a great season finale, from Paris-Tours to Giro di Lombardia. Don't tell me that it is too hard for me."
Follow Cyclingnews on Twitter for the very latest coverage of events taking place in the cycling world - twitter.com/cyclingnewsfeed