Italy has decided its nine-man team for the World Championship on Sunday in Ponferrada, Spain, a roster that includes Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali. Its problem, however, is that it does not have a clear favourite and Nibali is suffering.
"My form is what it is," Nibali said. "It's useless to say that I'm still at the same level that I had when I was winning the Tour de France."
Nibali won the Tour in July but raced little since. In the five one-day races that he competed in, he crashed in the third, the Tre Valli Varesine, and bruised his hip.
"It hurts and I hope that before Sunday that I'm better," Nibali said. "The truth is that I should be home to recover, but instead I'm here at the Worlds."
Nibali and the team all dressed in its black track suits met the press this afternoon in Ponferrada's energy museum.
The Sicilian was Italy's best finisher, fourth, at the 2013 Worlds in Florence last year. He led the team over the wet course, but crashed ahead of the final lap and suffered when the attacks came from Spain's Alejandro Valverde and Joaquím Rodríguez, and eventual winner Rui Costa of Portugal.
Today, Italian Director Davide Cassani named Nibali as part of his 'squadra azzurra' for the 254.8 kilometre race along with Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), double Vuelta a España stage winner Fabio Aru (Astana), Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo), Damiano Caruso (Cannondale), Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha), Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani), Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale) and Manuel Quinziato (BMC Racing).
Edoardo Zardini (Bardiani) and Davide Formolo (Cannondale) will watch roadside as reserves.
Cassani explained his idea is not to lead the race, but to attack it and force moves that could survive to the finish in Spain's north-western city. The course offers two small hills and five-kilometre descent that finishes each of the 14 circuits.
"The course is hard, but not that hard. It's going to depend a lot on the race rhythm. We want to make it hard," Nibali added.
"We have great riders and we are all near the same level. It's going to be hard for the others to always mark all of our moves."
More on the Road World Championships
Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali also hints at possibility of riding both Giro d'Italia and Tour in 2015
Medals by nation, and list of all medals winners in the 2014 UCI Road World Championships
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