By Gregor Brown in Varese
Leonardo Bertagnolli is the most relaxed member of Team Italy's squadra azzurra as the elite men's World Championship approaches. The 30 year-old from Trento is one of two reserves for the nine-man team of defending champion Paolo Bettini.
"It is beautiful, but I don't feel any tension because I won't be racing it is different," said Bertagnolli to Cyclingnews Wednesday evening. "I am in form these days and the team is going strong. I am sorry that I will not be able to race, but I am content to be here and in the team."
Team Director Franco Ballerini named the nine-man team on September 15 and listed Bertagnolli winner of Trofeo Melinda and Deutschland Tour stage three and Francesco Ginanni as the two reserves. They will fill in if one of the nine others cannot race. Last year, Danilo Di Luca pulled out due to a doping investigation and Ballerini replaced him with Matteo Tosatto.
The 2008 team consists of Bettini, Damiano Cunego, Davide Rebellin, Alessandro Ballan, Luca Paolini, Gabriele Bosisio, Marzio Bruseghin, Andrea Tonti and Tosatto. The team heads out every morning for its training rides from Hotel Le Robinie. Bertagnolli joins the other members, including room-mate Cunego, and local professionals every day on the outings.
"Today [Thursday] we did 180 kilometres and tomorrow we will do three to four hours," he said. "Friday we will do some work behind the car and Saturday will be a 'relaxed' day. ... Cunego is calm, I have known him since we were together at Team Saeco, and he never is affected by the tension very calm."
Bertagnolli announced he will leave Team Liquigas this year to join Team Nippo/Knauf for 2009 and 2010. The team is expanding for next year with the news of its new sponsor Knauf and directeur sportifs Giuseppe Martinelli and Guido Bontempi.
"The team is young but it is managed well. There is Martinelli; he gives me a lot of faith. There is also Bontempi, I know them both well and they both have experience."