Ballerini names Italy's Worlds team

National director Franco Ballerini with Damiano Cunego at the Vuelta a España

National director Franco Ballerini with Damiano Cunego at the Vuelta a España (Image credit: Sirotti)

Alessandro Ballan, Damiano Cunego and Filippo Pozzato will form part of Italy's nine-man team for the World championships, September 27. National director Franco Ballerini announced the team members today in Milano.

"The difficulty was to understand what type of team to assemble," Ballerini told Tuttobiciweb. "I think I've put together a team with different options."

Nine man team and two reserves
• Damiano Cunego
• Ivan Basso
• Alessandro Ballan
• Filippo Pozzato
• Stefano Garzelli
• Luca Paolini
• Michele Scarponi
• Giovanni Visconti
• Marzio Bruseghin
• Matteo Tosatto
• Mauro Santambrogio

Ballerini will select the nine-man team and two reserve riders from these 11 two days before the race.

Ballan won the Worlds title last year in Varese, Italy, and heads the squad with Cunego. Cunego finished second last year and won two stages of this year's Vuelta a España, including yesterday's stage to La Pandera. He is the Italian favourite this year given the Mendrisio, Switzerland, course will have more climbing, 4655 metres.

"These guys are going well in the Vuelta, but its another thing when the race is over 200 kilometres," Cunego told Cyclingnews of his rivals.

This year's circuit in Mendrisio is shorter than last year's 17.35-kilometre circuit. It has two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano, in 13.8 kilometres, repeated 19 times at 262.2 kilometres.

Pozzato is the current Italian champion and won the Giro del Veneto last month. Ivan Basso will arrive at the Worlds with a likely top-five place at the Vuelta a España. Visconti will race his first Worlds backed by wins in Melinda and Agostoni last month.

Stefano Garzelli and Luca Paolini will likely be second tier leaders. They will also help the main leaders, with Marzio Bruseghin and Michele Scarponi. Giovanni Visconti could be a rider for early escapes.

Ballerini announced four-time national champion Marco Pinotti for the time trial team.

The time trial covers three 16.6-kilometre circuits, 49.8 kilometres. The 650-metre long Rancate climb is the main difficulty with sections of 10 percent.

Italy won the last three road race editions with Ballan (2008) and Paolo Bettini (2007 and 2006). A country has yet to win the in four consecutive years.

Mendrisio last hosted the Worlds in 1971, when Belgium's Eddy Merckx beat Italy's Felice Gimondi.

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