Italians prep for Lombardia

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) on his way to victory in 2006, followed by Rebellin

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) on his way to victory in 2006, followed by Rebellin (Image credit: Sirotti)

Rebellin's first seven-hour training session

By Gregor Brown

The favourites are gearing up for a one last hurrah this weekend with the running of the 101st Giro di Lombardia, and for the Italians the 242-kilometre monument ranks high in prestige.

Many of the same riders that featured in the World Championships fancy themselves for taking the win along the shores of Lake Como. Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) passed seven hours on his bike yesterday for the first time in his long career. The 36 year-old rider from Veneto did a lot of above threshold work, including climbing mountains behind a motorbike to simulate race conditions according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. 'Tin-Tin' will have a light programme today and tomorrow he will ride another two and a half hours behind the moto.

World Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step - Innergetic) has won the race two year's running, and will once again be a favourite to win. Joined by Leonardo Scarselli and Giovanni Visconti, the 33 year-old Livornese trained for four hours on home roads yesterday. Many are indicating that his team-mate and current Italian Champion, Visconti, will be a favourite give his recent win in the Coppa Sabatini.

Damiano Cunego won the race in 2004 and with his win in the GP Beghelli this week he will be considered a top gun for Saturday. Cyclingnews spotted the rider from Verona on the parcours yesterday. "Damiano went with team-mates Marzano, Tiralongo and Gavazzi on the climbs of Ghisallo, Civiglio and San Fermo," explained Directeur Sportif Maurizio Piovani.

"He is well, and the win last week in the GP Beghelli was good for his morale." He covered 175 kilometres. "It will be important to race with intelligence, without wasting energy," said Cunego.

Filippo Pozzato will lead Liquigas on Saturday. Yesterday, he trained for 160 kilometres on the roads near his home in Monte Carlo with Andrea Moletta (Gerolsteiner) and Matteo Tosatto (Quick.Step - Innergetic). He will travel to the start town, Varese, tomorrow.

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