Spaniard Samuel Sánchez will head confidently into next week's World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland, based on his previous, winning experience. Last year, he raced the Tour de France prior to Olympic road race win and this year he is at the Vuelta a España, currently third overall.
"I had the chance to repeat last year's decision, taking advantage of a good form to fight for two goals. It is our [the Spanish team's] bet and we have prepared in the best way possible," Sánchez told Cyclingnews.
The Euskaltel-Euskadi captain finished sixth overall in the 2008 Tour de France and won the Olympic title in Beijing two weeks later. This year's World Championships road race will take place a week after the end of the Vuelta, on September 27.
The 13.8-kilometre Mendrisio circuit travels south of the city and features two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano. It's repeated 19 times for 262.2 kilometres and 4655 metres of climbing. Sánchez will reconnoitre the circuit for the first time after the Vuelta ends in Madrid on Sunday.
"It is a very demanding route, in which the accumulation of both kilometres and climbing will make it tougher," he continued. "It's a very good circuit for us [Spain], but also for other big teams, like Italy."
Spain has won the Worlds three times with sprinter Oscar Freire (1999, 2001 and 2004) and placed Alejandro Valverde in the top three last three editions of the race. Sánchez's best place was fourth on the 2006 circuit in Salzburg.
Italian National director Franco Ballerini has guided Italy to three wins in the last three years. Paolo Bettini won in 2007 and 2006, and helped teammate Alessandro Ballan win last year in Varese.
"In a selection, as in any group, all components are important. Everyone must take responsibility and do his part for the common goal. Success lies in balancing all these factors," said Sánchez of Ballerini's success rate.
Spain will announce its team in the next days, with Valverde and Sánchez as leaders. Luxembourg's Andy Schleck, Italy's Damiano Cunego and Ballan, and Spain's Freire and Valverde are the favourites, said Sánchez.
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