Selection to dream

Valverde, Landa and Enric Mas, the main assets of Spain in the tough circuit that decides the 2020 World Cup in Imola (9:40 TDP and Eurosport).


A week after the Tour's hairline arrived on the Champs-Élysées, many of those who entered there as great protagonists of the Grande Boucle today aspire to wear rainbows in the distance test of the World Championships in Imola (Italy), the venue that convinced the UCI to be the salvation of this edition marked by the coronavirus. This closeness to the great Frenchwoman makes many focuses turn to perhaps the two great names in the race: its young winner, the recently turned 22-year-old Slovenian Tadej Pogacar; and that of the Belgian Wout van Aert, the versatile Jumbo cyclist who aspires to a double, after his silver in the chrono, which has not been seen for 25 years in the Olano and Indurain exhibition in Duitama.

An edition in which, unlike in other years, it does not seem that the Spanish are among the great aspirants, despite the fact that the hard circuit of 258 kilometers and 5,000 meters of unevenness also benefit the group formed by the coach Pascual Momparler, nurtured only by cyclists present in France. “Perhaps it is too close to such a tough Tour, but the track is not bad for us and we are excited and motivated”, confirms to AS an Alejandro Valverde who only because of his record (seven world medals, gold in 2018), is the reference , and, that he will instill respect if he appears at the top positions at key moments.

But perhaps, more than ever in recent years, the eternal leader of Movistar is not the only asset, and even more so with two cyclists of the stature of Mikel Landa and Enric Mas in the team, who come from fourth and fifth on the Tour, in addition to Soler, Luis León, Herrada, De la Cruz and Bilbao, all with prestigious triumphs in their history. “Valverde is the one with the most experience in this type of racing, but we can play different cards,” he analyzes for AS Enric Mas, who finished the Tour in a great way. For Landa, curiously, it is his first World Cup in the elite category, but nobody sees him as a rookie. He will try to take advantage of “the rhythm of the Tour”, although he admits that in this short transition from Paris to Imola it makes “more difficult to prepare mentally” .

All coincide in highlighting the very hard, with the explosive climbs to Mazzolano (2.8 km at 5.9% with ramps at 13%) and Gallisterna (2.7 to 6.4% and peaks of 14%) as key points each of the nine turns of the circuit. The other factor to take into account will come from the sky if the appearance of rain is confirmed to increase the requirement of a narrow and buzzard route.

In this scenario, the Spaniards will have to face such media rivals as the Slovenian couple Pogacar-Roglic, the Belgium of a Van Aert who for Valverde "is even more favorite than the winner of the Tour", the local Italy with figures like Ulissi and Nibali two who have not done the Tour), Alaphilippe at the head of France, the powerful Colombia, the Ecuadorian trick of Carapaz or even former champions like the Polish Kwiatkoski, or new figures like the Swiss Hirschi. Although after seven hours of racing we will see who is ahead and how, because as Valverde warns, “if this World Cup has something, it is that you have to always be attentive and not relax for a second, whoever thinks they can save something for the end, he will be wrong. ”

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