Italian national coach Paolo Bettini is close to selecting the riders who will make up the 'squadra azzurra' for the professional world road race championships in Tuscany but is still undecided on the final nine riders as he juggles tactical options and studies riders' fitness.
Vuelta leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is expected to be the Italian team leader but Bettini faces a tough task in deciding other possible team leaders and deciding who will have to do work. Italy is hoping to win the world title on home roads to give Italian cycling a boost after a poor season of results.
The 272km road race starts in Lucca and covers a 106km section before covering the hilly Florence circuit ten times. Each lap includes the 4.3km climb up to Fiesole and a 600m section at 10% in Via Salviati on each lap. As a result the race is expected to be very selective with the climbers and hilly classics riders best suited to the course.
"The (Italian) riders have been good because they've made my life difficult," Bettini admitted to Gazzetta dello Sport from Spain, admitting he still has to decide the final names for the Italian team.
Gazzetta predicts that Nibali, his domestique Alessandro Vanotti and road captain Luca Paolini all have secure places in the Italian team.
Bettini has to decide who has the form and the right characteristics to complete the team. Probable names include Tour of Poland winner Diego Ulissi, Rinaldo Nocentini who was second behind Warren Barguil a the Vuelta on Friday, Italian national champion Ivan Santaromita, Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi, Pozzato and Giovanni Visconti.
At his best Visconti could even be a contender for victory and so a possible alternative to Nibali but has shown little form in recent weeks. He will ride the Tour of Britain but Bettini will name his team on Monday September 16, just one day after the start of the British race.
Pozzato has impressed in recent weeks and won the GP Ouest-France in Plouay. However the Florence course is far tougher and much more selective than the French classic.
Bettini has made it clear that Pozzato will have to show his form in the two Canadian races next weekend. A win could see him secure a co-leadership role. A poor display could see miss out on a place for Florence altogether.
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