Giacomo Nizzolo couldn't have picked a better moment to notch his sixth victory of the season, with his performance at the Giro del Piemonte sending out a strong statement ahead of the UCI Road World Championships in Qatar next month.
In what was one of the final tests for sprinters ahead of the Worlds, the Italian champion saw off Fernando Gaviria and Daniele Bennati on home soil, and in doing so stated his credentials to lead the line for Italy in Doha.
Nizzolo has been named alongside Elia Viviani as co-leader for the Italian team, with head coach Davide Cassani happy to wait before deciding which rider to build his team around.
"I don't want to say that I'm the stronger one but I've worked hard to be at 100 per cent for the world championships," said Nizzolo after his win at the Giro del Piemonte.
"I have a good relationship with Viviani and I'm sure we can find a good compromise, but I'm not a 'plan B'."
Nizzolo has had a decent 2016 campaign and won the points classification at the Giro d'Italia for the second time in a row, despite the disappointment of thinking he'd won his first ever stage on the last day, only to be relegated.
Having won the Italian championships road race in June, with Viviani in a group well behind, he has outlined his late-season form with two Italian one-day wins – first the Coppa Bernocchi and then Piemonte on Thursday.
"After the Italian championships, I started to prepare for the Worlds. I worked hard and at the Eneco Tour I felt good, even if I didn't get the result I was hoping for," he said.
"[Piemonte] was my last race ahead of Doha. Winning at the end of such a tough race with top riders, that's really important for me."