Paolo Bettini visits Vuelta to gauge Italian talent for world road championships

Filippo Pozzato will captain the team, but Alessandro Petacchi's chances appear "complicated."

Paolo Bettini arrived at the Vuelta a España this weekend to get a closer look at some of the men whom he will be selecting to race for Italy in the 2010 world championships in Australia.

Bettini, preparing for his first world championships as Italy’s national coach, said the Melbourne course should give Italy a good shot at delivering the rainbow jersey.

“The course is ideal for Filippo (Pozzato). We can expect that he can be our captain for the worlds,” Bettini told VeloNews. “He is coming up in form and he is very motivated for the world championships. I think he has a very good chance at winning.”

Bettini also said it looks “complicated” for Alessandro Petacchi to earn one of the nine starting positions for Italy.

“He had to abandon the Vuelta due to his crash,” Bettini said. “The course would have been good for him too, but it looks complicated. I need to talk to him to see.”

There’s always intense competition among the Italian pros to earn a spot on the nine-man squad. Others riding strongly at the Vuelta include Vincenzo Nibali and Maurizio Bruseghin.

“I want to talk to some of the guys and see who’s strong,” Bettini said. “Italy always has a strong worlds team. The hard part is just to select nine.”

Bettini is preparing for his first world championships as Italy’s new national coach following the tragic death of Franco Ballerini in a February car crash at an amateur race rally when he was taking part as the navigator.

Ballerini had been Italy’s national coach since 2001 and brought home world titles with Mario Cipollini (2002), Alessandro Ballan (2007) and Bettini (2006-07).