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Gallery: World championship favourites train on the Cauberg

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Alejandro Valverde of spain

Alejandro Valverde of spain (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The sun was out for the training ride

The sun was out for the training ride (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Edvald Boasson Hagen and Gabriel Rasch in Norwegian colors

Edvald Boasson Hagen and Gabriel Rasch in Norwegian colors (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Philippe Gilbert and Yukihiro Doi of Japan

Philippe Gilbert and Yukihiro Doi of Japan (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tom Boonen gets in a tuck

Tom Boonen gets in a tuck (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The German team catches the Netherlands

The German team catches the Netherlands (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Former teamates Paolo Bettini sand Tom Boonen say hello

Former teamates Paolo Bettini sand Tom Boonen say hello (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tom Boonen leads the Belgian training ride

Tom Boonen leads the Belgian training ride (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Philippe Gilbert looked relaxed during his ride

Philippe Gilbert looked relaxed during his ride (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The riders trained under blue skies

The riders trained under blue skies (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Belgian team is especially strong this year with Boonen and gilbert both on form

The Belgian team is especially strong this year with Boonen and gilbert both on form (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tejay Van Garderen and Taylor Phinney go through the finish area

Tejay Van Garderen and Taylor Phinney go through the finish area (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Vincenzo Nibali leads the Italian training ride

Vincenzo Nibali leads the Italian training ride (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador gets ready to ride

Alberto Contador gets ready to ride (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador rolls out in his Spanish colors

Alberto Contador rolls out in his Spanish colors (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The Italian squadra poses for an official photo with national coach Paolo Bettini

The Italian squadra poses for an official photo with national coach Paolo Bettini (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Moremo Moser could be Italy's best hope for the world title

Moremo Moser could be Italy's best hope for the world title (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Robert Gesink will be competing at home on Sunday

Robert Gesink will be competing at home on Sunday (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Several national teams took advantage of a day without racing at the UCI Road World Championships to train on the road race course and check out the crucial Cauberg climb that is expected to play a huge role in deciding who pulls on the rainbow jerseys.

Americans Tejay Van Garderen and Taylor Phinney used their ride to recover from the efforts of the time trial, while other teams spent several hours in the saddle.

Italian national coach and two-time former world champion Paolo Bettini rolled out with the Italian team for several laps of the course after posing for an official team photo. He discussed tactics with road captain Luca Paolini and key riders in the squadra azzura: Vincenzo Nibali, Moreno Moser and Diego Ulissi.

Alberto Contador tried to put the disappointment of Wednesday’s time trial behind and pulled on the red and yellow Spanish kit for a recovery ride along with teammate Alejandro Valverde –one of the favourites thanks to his climbing ability and fast finish.

Thousands of Belgian cycling fans are expected to cross over into the Netherlands to cheer on Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert on Sunday. Both riders are on form and give the Belgian team a formidable array of tactical options. Both looked relaxed and confident during the ride, with Boonen stopping to say hello to Paolo Bettini after the Italian switched to a scooter to follow his riders.

All the teams enjoyed the sunny and dry conditions in Limburg on Thursday, perhaps knowing that showers are expected for Sunday’s elite men's road race.