Alberto Bettiol talks personal ambitions and main rivals at World Championships - "My personal favourite is Mathieu"

The Italian national team will be riding under the radar into the Elite men's Road Race at the World Championships, however it will be a very strong lineup, with Alberto Bettiol as a main figure to take into consideration.

“I know I’m the designated leader of the Italian team but I'm not under pressure and I feel good," Bettiol told Cyclingnews. "I’m looking forward to the World, I’m not scared of whatever happens." The EF Education-EasyPost rider is a classic expert, and with the climbing legs and endurance he has shown over the past years, he will be a very dangerous outsider for the 266-kilometer long road race.

"I’ve committed to a leadership role and it’s lifted my confidence and focused my mind. I've been preparing for the World Championships all year, with great support from EF Education-EasyPost..." he was keen on pointing out. “Matteo Trentin is a co-leader and road captain. We’re friends and well as teammates and we’ve already done three Worlds together. We’re a young team but we’re united and have a mix of experience and young talent.

The Italians will feature this duo, but furthermore Andrea Bagioli who rode onto the podium of the recent GP de Montréal alongside Tadej Pogacar and Wout van Aert, and Lorenzo Rota aswell as cards to play in the finale. However with all eyes on the fast men, Tadej Pogacar and the French team, the Italian nation may get somewhat of a free card to race aggressively and take advantage of the situation.

“When the race explodes we’ll have to be good at using the right riders at the right time and in the right place, hopefully setting up the finale for me," Bettiol aknowledges. "We’re not the favourites and that should help us race without any extra pressure on the day.” Bettiol explained how since having a breakthrough win at the Tour des Flandres in 2019 he's had to deal with numerous health and personal issues, that have many times not allowed him to race at his best level.

This year he seems to have shown good signs of returning to it with strong performances at the Tour de France and the recent classics. “I rode the Tour, found my best form again and came out of it well, so that I can be competitive at the World Championships and also be back to my best in the year ahead," he said.

Although a decent sprinter, he will however have to race aggressively aswell if he wants a shot at the gold medal, as he mentions: “There’s a lot of talk about other riders like van Aert, Girmay and Matthews who is racing at home Australia but my personal favourite is Mathieu [van der Poel]... I’m sure that nobody wants to take Matthews, van Aert and Girmay to the finish because they’ll win the sprint. That means it could be a hard, selective race. It suits riders with endurance and experience of the big Classics," the Italian believes.

“We can’t race on the back foot, we have to expect and anticipate any attacks and selections and we have to be in there. I’m sure we won’t be alone racing like that. I know I won the Tour of Flanders, which is arguably a bigger and harder race than the World Championships. That gives me the courage to line-up on Sunday and go for it," the 28-year old concluded.

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