Spain will have one of its best chances of winning the World Championships next Sunday, according to its captain Alejandro Valverde. He considers the Mendrisio, Switzerland, Worlds course suited to Spain's strengths.
"It is very selective and that is exactly what we like," Valverde told Cyclingnews. "To win it will be important to ride with our head and be very united against the other teams."
The 13.8-kilometre Mendrisio circuit travels south of the city and features two climbs, Acqua Fresca and Novazzano. It's repeated 19 times for 262.2 kilometres and 4655 metres of climbing.
"The course of Mendrisio is definitely harder than the one of Hamilton."
Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) will preview the circuit for the first time after the Vuelta ends Sunday in Madrid. He leads the Vuelta by 1:26 over Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) ahead of today's time trial in Toledo.
Valverde has finished on the Worlds podium three times: second in Hamilton (2002), second in Madrid (2005) and third in Salzburg (2006). He finished 36th in Varese last year, a course similar to Mendrisio's but with less climbing.
Mendrisio, with 4655 metres of climbing, has more climbing than one-day Classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Valverde has won in Liège two times and believes that there is one element missing for him to take his first Worlds title.
"You have to have a very good day and be lucky. Luck is very important in a one day race," he said.
Italy has had luck and talent on its side for the last three years. National director Franco Ballerini led Paolo Bettini to his wins in 2006 and 2007, and Alessandro Ballan last year. Italy is the favourite this year with Damiano Cunego, second last year and winner of two stages in the Vuelta a España.
"It is very important to have a good director," continued Valverde. One "who perfectly knows the race and the tactic to adopt in such a particular race like the World Championships, but without a champion's legs it is impossible to do anything."
Cunego is the number one favourite, according to Valverde. Andy Schleck, Kim Kirchen, Alessandro Ballan are his other rivals and "will be dangerous".
Spain's Worlds team: Oscar Freire, Juan Manuel Gárate, Alejandro Valverde, Joaquím Rodríguez, Daniel Moreno, Samuel Sánchez, Juan José Cobo, Carlos Barredo and Rubén Plaza
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