By Gregor Brown
Italian Enrico Gasparotto, 26, won the Giro della Romagna in convincing manner yesterday – attacking on the climb and limiting his opponents for the sprint – and now waits for a World Championship invitation from Franco Ballerini. The Italian national directeur sportif will make the nine-man selection for the race, September 28 in Varese, in five days time.
Last month, Gasparotto explained that his main objective was a win in Giro del Veneto, Coppa Placci or Romagna. "I think I showed to everyone. I did the best I could do to convince Ballerini," said Gasparotto to Cyclingnews Monday morning. "He is the DS and he will decide on the team; in the past years, he has done very well selecting the national team – one Olympic gold and two Worlds – I can't say anything to him."
Ballerini acknowledged after the race that he has one more name added to his list of candidates for Italy's squadra azzurra. He did not speak to Gasparotto after the race, but he took notes. "I think that he prefers to keep to himself," 'Gaspa' observed.
Ballerini travels to the Vuelta a España today to meet with Damiano Cunego, Alessandro Ballan and Paolo Bettini. Spots on the Worlds team are guaranteed to all three riders thanks to their past performances on the national team and their results this year. Gasparotto is still fighting for his first chance to don the team's maglia azzurra.
Luca Paolini, winner of Coppa Placci and training partner of Gasparotto, is also vying for a spot. "It will be an easy day," said Gasparotto of his training plan. "I will call Paolini and ride to have a coffee in Varese."
The duo will likely discuss the recent race results and coming season – Paolini is currently without a contract for 2009.
"We train together every day. I was happy for his Placci win. I won De Panne and Luca was second and then he wins Placci and I finished second. It is normal that I am happy for him; he needs victory for Worlds selection and for his contract."
Gasparotto exploited his training partner's weakness to take the win in Romagna, exactly the needed tactics for a tough Varese parcours. "He knew that he could win yesterday if we arrived in a sprint. I had to try to attack on the climb."