Italian team trains in Geelong

Italian manager Paolo Bettini has led the Italian team on its first collective training ride in Australia ahead of the world championships. The squad arrived at their base in Geelong last night and trained on the finishing circuit this morning.

“We were all very keen to ride on the course,” Bettini said. “The impressions I had during our reconnaissance in July have been confirmed today: the course is testing and characterized by wind.”

Bettini led an advance party of Luca Paolini (Aqua & Sapone), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha), Giovanni Visconti (ISD-Neri) and Daniele Bennati (Liquigas-Doimo) to inspect the course in July. Of that quartet, only Bennati has missed out on a place in the Italian squad for the Worlds.

“For a first training ride, I’m satisfied, especially with the great harmony in the team and tomorrow we’ll be ready for a longer ride,” Bettini said.

Italian leader Filippo Pozzato reiterated his manager’s sentiments when interviewed after the 70km training spin. “This first ride is a confirmation of the sensations I had in July,” he explained. “It’s an unforgiving course. It will be necessary to take it lap by lap during the race to find the best way of approaching it.”

The Italian selection came in for criticism from Mario Cipollini yesterday, when he suggested to Cyclingnews that it was ill-advised to leave a sprinter such as Daniele Bennati at home.

As if in response to that claim, Vuelta a España winner Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) was quick to point out the difficulty of the circuit. “It’s not a simple course, it’s tough and demanding,” he said. “The two climbs could make the difference.”

While the elite men rode the circuit alongside the under-23 squad, the women’s duo of world road race champion Tatiana Guderzo and Noemi Cantele tested out the time trial circuit and made some interesting observations.

“It’s a hard and unusual course,” Cantele said. “It’s up and down and it’s marked by roads that are much wider than what we are used to. It’s not for the specialists and you’ll have to be at your best on the climbs that punctuate it.”

Her thoughts were echoed by under-23 rider Matteo Mammini, who also checked out the route of the time trial. “I like the course,” he said. “You’ll have to push hard on the climbs because there’s no chance of making up time between then. It’s a course for whoever has the best legs rather than the pure specialists.”

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