In form and on the radar after his win at Dwars door Vlaanderen, Oscar Gatto has been handed leadership at the upcoming VDK-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde. The Vini Fantini-Selle Italia squad is heading into the three-day Belgian race expecting results ahead of Sunday's Tour of Flanders.
The man charged with achieving those results is the in-form 28-year-old who was part of the chasing group that sprinted for 8th-place at Milan-San Remo, eventually taking 20th - the best placed rider from one of the most visible outfits in the professional peloton.
"It will be an important week in which we expect a lot from Gatto, who has no excuse: he is our leader, won a beautiful classic and legs, strength, head and attitude to impress at the Tour of Flanders," said team manager Luca Scinto to tuttobiciweb.it.
The Italian is a former stage winner at the Giro d'Italia and his win may have come as somewhat of a surprise at Dwars door Vlaanderen but he has proven himself at the cobbled classics in the past. Last year Gatto was part of the early breakaway at E3 Harelbeke and looked likely to fight it out for the win until a broken rim ended his chances as he watched the race pass him by while waiting at the side of the road for a replacement.
This year however, Gatto has really shown himself as a race-winning contender for Belgium classics and with his bad luck seemingly put aside, he could be one to look for in the coming days and at Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Gatto should have enough support in the demanding 531km tour which may present opportunities for fast-man Francesco Chicchi who took two victories at Tour de Langkawi, along with winning the sprinter's jersey while the experienced Belgian Kevin Hulsmans is also included in the line-up.
"The next three days will have to measure and confirm Gatto's condition Sunday we will be hungry and ready to fight with the best riders in the world," added Scinto.
Vini Fantini-Selle Italia squad for VDK-Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde: Rafael Andriato (Bra), Francesco Chicchi (Ita), Francesco Failli (Ita), Mauro Finetto (Ita), Oscar Gatto (Ita), Kevin Hulsmans (Bel), Pierpaolo De Negri (Ita) and Mattia Pozzo (Ita).
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