Italian national coach Paolo Bettini was in Copenhagen on Thursday to study the course of the 2011 world road race championships and predicted the race will end with a sprint finish, suggesting the course was made to measure for Alessandro Petacchi.
Bettini dismissed Mark Cavendish’s chances, saying that the unity and strength of the national teams will be a decisive factor.
“There’s only one rider in Italy who can win on a finish like that after 250km of racing: Alessandro Petacchi,” Bettini told Gazzetta dello Sport. “The course could also be suited to Daniele Bennati but he’s never won races over 250km. I’d be happy to take a chance with Bennati but he’d have to go well from Hamburg Cyclassics onwards.
“The course is easy but it’s not like Zolder in 2002. If anything, it’s like Madrid in 2005. The finish suits a strong rider, like Petacchi or Hushovd. Cavendish? I think it’ll be tough for him because he won’t have a team.”
Petacchi will be 37 in January and is still caught up in a doping investigation by Italian police. He was Italian team leader in Madrid in 2005 but had a bad day and didn’t tell his teammates. Bettini eventually stepped in and tried to win with a late attack. However, the race came back together and Tom Boonen won the sprint ahead of Alejandro Valverde of Spain and Frenchman Anthony Geslin. Bettini eventually won his two world titles in Salzburg, Austria in 2006 and then in Stuttgart, Germany in 2007.
Short climb each lap
The Copenhagen course starts with a 30km ride from the centre of Copenhagen and then covers 18 laps of a 15km circuit near the northern suburb of Rudersdal.
The only testing section is a climb that lasts 500 metres and climbs at 7percent. The rest of the course twists and turns through the suburbs with a right turn 900 metres before the slightly riding finish in a park.
Bettini predicts a sprint finish but acknowledged that the team will be vital to control any late attacks.
“Controlling the race will be very important and so the team will have to be very united. The final kilometres won’t be easy to control and the last two riders will have to know how to do a super job.
“There’s little space for a several team leaders. It’ll be one for all and all for one. Because unless something totally surprising happens, a sprint finish is very probable.”
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.