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Two More Worlds Squads: Italy and Spain

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Let's face it, the Vuelta is over. Most people take Vinokourov's stunning victory as an article of faith at this point, but it's not merely the Maillot Oro. Virtually everything worth winning is sewn up, beyond the reach of some puny 28km flat time trial. The points race has been over for two weeks. Egoi Martinez salted away the mountains prize this week. The combined prize is being fought by the top two GC guys, who can be forgiven for not caring. The team prize is well within the grasp of the Disco boys (proving once again how irrelevant the team prize is). Even the lesser GC positions are virtually set: among the top 10, only 7th (5 seconds) and 9th (two seconds) are more vulnerable than Vino's impregnable 53-second lead.

Time to focus on the Worlds!

So now just about every team we care about has announced a roster. Comes now Italia:

  • Filippo Pozzato
  • Matteo Tosatto
  • Danilo Di Luca
  • Luca Paolini
  • Alessandro Ballan
  • Marzio Bruseghin
  • Andrea Tonti
  • Rinaldo Nocentini
  • Davide Rebellin
  • Raffaele Ferrara

ITT: Marco Pinotti, Vincenzo Nibali

Coach Franco Ballerini routinely wrings fewer results out of his talented squad than virtually any other team, and this year should be no exception:

"This team hasn't been selected so much to attack, but more to be present," Ballerini explained his choice. "The parcours is made for attacks, and we have to be included in them."

Um, oh-kay... I guess the plan is that if the course is selective, DiLuca and Rebellin should be real threats, and if there's a larger group to sprint it out or launch late, short attacks, Ballan, Pozzatto and Paolini will be heard from.

Anyway, onto Spain:

  • Alejandro Valverde
  • Joaquin Rodriguez
  • Juan Antonio Flecha
  • Xavier Florencio
  • Samuel Sanchez
  • Iñigo Cuesta
  • Francisco Ventoso
  • Luis Perez
  • Undecided (Carlos Sastre, Manolo Beltrán, or Egoi Martinez)

ITT: Luis Leon Sanchez (virus; still a maybe) and Iván Gutiérrez

Oscar Pereiro was not selected because, according to his coach, he sucks. What's left, though, is intriguing. Valverde would be a natural if he can get some zip back (which I kind of doubt). Otherwise, Sanchez and Florencio are solid choices, with Ventoso in case it comes to a bunch sprint, plus some solid workers for all eventualities.