At just 21 years of age, Moreno Moser (Liquigas-Cannondale) is set to become the youngest rider to represent Italy in the elite men’s world championships road race since Silvano Contini in 1979, incidentally also in Valkenburg.
The Italian federation’s new selection policy decrees that riders who have served doping suspensions and riders under investigation for doping are ineligible for the squadra azzurra, and with the emphasis now firmly on youth, Moser could be handed a degree of responsibility in Valkenburg on September 23.
His Liquigas-Cannondale stable-mate Vincenzo Nibali will lead the Italian team, but coach Paolo Bettini has hinted that Moser and 23-year-old Diego Ulissi (Lampre-ISD) will also be expected to be active in the finale.
“We’re a good team and on paper we’ve certainly got more possibilities than last year [when Italy endured its worst Worlds finish since 1983 – ed.],” Moser told Gazzetta dello Sport. “We have Nibali as leader and then some other cards to play, and I hope to be one of them.”
In spite of his tender years, Moser has already won the Trofeo Laigueglia and the Tour of Poland in 2012, and he insisted that he has no qualms about his ability to last the distance over the 260km-long course in Limburg, which includes ten laps of a circuit that comprises the Bemelerberg and Cauberg.
“I did a good national championships [3rd behind Franco Pellizotti – ed.] and that made me realise that I have the distance in my legs,” said Moser, who demonstrated his current form by finishing second at the GP de Montréal on Sunday.
“I had expected to go well in Canada, but my bad showing in the first race [the GP de Québec] had brought me some doubts,” he said. “To be honest, even at the start of the second race I still had some bad sensations, but I got better and better as the race went on.”
Moser will be joined in the Italian squad by his fellow Trento native and neo-professional, Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). A reserve at the Olympic Games in London, Trentin is hopeful that he will get the nod for Bettini’s final nine-man selection. His final race before the Worlds is the GP Impanis – Van Petegem on Saturday.
“I didn’t do the Vuelta a España or any stage race since the Olympics, so I’m happy to race on Saturday, it will be an excellent test,” Trentin said. “Up to now, I have a good season behind me, even if it’s been a bit up and down in terms of results. If I race in Valkenburg, I think the manager will ask me to be a team player and pull on the front, and I’m ready.”