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"Sagan is the favorite," Italian national team coach Davide Cassani claimed after inspecting the World Championships route in Ponferrada

Photo: Sirotti

ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

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PETER SAGAN

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PHILIPPE GILBERT

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14.02.2014 @ 18:02 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Being appointed the new national team coach after Paolo Bettini parted his ways with Italian Federation to support Fernando Alonso in developing his project, Davida Cassani took his new occupation seriously and inspected the 2014 World Cup circuit in Ponferrada earlier this week.

 

Having his own legs tested on the route of the next World Championships by exploring it on a bike, the former Saeco rider confessed that he expected the parcours to be slightly more demanding and considering all circumstances pointed out to Peter Sagan as a favorite to claim the rainbow jersey in 2014.

 

"Sagan is the favorite" Cassani confirmed.

 

“He has the handicap of not having a strong enough team to control the race in the past, and the adversaries will not be five, but 25. For us, without doubt, that will be an advantage because, between them, I hope there will be several Italians."

 

Asked about other riders favored by the Ponferrada circuit, Cassani pointed out to Alejandro Valverde and Philippe Gilbert as the ones capable of capitalizing on the route, should the race be fast enough.

 

"Spain has to back Valverde, who may do well on this route because it is fast and he will negotiate well the climbs. Gilbert will also do well, " he said

 

Alongside Marino Amadori and Rino Candido, coaches of the respectively Under 23 and junor Italian national teams, and equipped with all devices necessary to record the route and make needed measurements, Cassani proved to treat his new role very seriously.

 

"I hope to do better in September this time," Cassani was explaining, "because, as we have seen last year in Florence, everything can change the outcome of the race."

 

The newly appointed Italian coach was referring to the crash which Nibali suffered from in Florence, like no less of the half of the competitors who started the race in Lecco.

 

“Italy have always had an optimal squad, but since 2008 we haven’t had any medals. Partly to do with bad luck, like what happened to Vincenzo (crashing on the wet roads), but nor is it easy because we have had so many years without winning one of the monuments.”

 

Even though Cassani, among few other retired stars of the professional peloton, was forced to negotiate the route around Ponferrada in the highly unfavorable weather conditions – only to mention the temperature circulating around two degrees and constant rainfall, after two laps of the final circuit he still claimed it was easier than expected.

 

"I expected a little harder route," he explained later.

 

"There is a route for climbers , but also for pure sprinters ," he has added .

 

Asked about a more detailed route analysis, the Italian national team coach took his time while describing the percours.

 

“The first climb is long, but not difficult, and it has a 5% slope. In the group, on the wheel, it will be fine. The second is harder, at 8%, but short. It reminds me of the circuit Benidorm 92". The descent is not difficult, there are just a couple of tricky corners. You will be able to to recover."

 

Without excluding anyone so early in the season, Cassani suggested that perhaps the time has come to let the younger riders, like Sasha Modolo, play their own cards while trying to use the strength in numbers of Italian team to control the race.

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