State of the nation: analysis of the Italian men’s team for the 2021 World Championships


Ahead of 2021 UCI Road World Championships Elite road races, Cyclingnews takes a look at key teams. We analyzed the men’s teams of the United States, Australia, France, Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Here’s a look at the Italian men’s team for Sunday’s road race.


The World Championships have always been a major goal for Italy, with the Azzurri winning the men’s road racing world title 19 times with 16 different riders.

Alfredo Binda won the first years of the World Championships three times in 1927, 1930 and 1932 and was the very first winner of the rainbow jersey when it was introduced in 1927.

Gianni Bugno (1991 and 1992) and Paolo Bettini (2006 and 2007) won the world title twice, while Learco Guerra (1931), Fausto Coppi (1953), Ercole Baldini (1958), Vittorio Adorni (1968), Marino Basso (1972)), Felice Gimondi (1973), Francesco Moser (1977), Giuseppe Saronni (1982), Moreno Argentin (1986), Maurizio Fondriest (1988), Mario Cipollini (2002) and Alessandro Ballan (2008) all have won the ‘maglia iridata’ for Italy over the years.

Italy have won several medals since Ballan’s victory on the roads of Varese but have failed to win the world title. Filippo Ganna recently won back-to-back world time trial titles and the women’s squad have enjoyed huge success, but the tifosi are hopeful that Italy can end their lack of recent wins on the roads of Flanders on Sunday.

Italy’s national coach Davide Cassani will end his term after the election of a new president in the spring. Cassani has overseen four straight wins at the European Championships and a world title would be a perfect end to his great work.

2019 World Road Championship Yorkshire Junior Men Road Race Richmond Harrogate 148 km 26092019 Matteo Trentino Italy Sonny Colbrelli Italy Davide Cimolai Italy Salvatore Puccio Italy BettiniPhoto2019

2019 Yorkshire Road World Championships (Image credit: Bettini Photo)


  • Sonny Colbrelli (victorious Bahrain)
  • Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates)
  • Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka Next Hash)
  • Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates)
  • Andrea Bagioli (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
  • Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers)
  • Davide Ballerini (DEceuninck-QuickStep)
  • Alessandro De Marchi (Start-Up Nation of Israel)

Key pilots

Sonny Colbrelli has gained his protected leadership with an impressive series of races this year, including the Italian Nationals and the European Championships, with a recent victory at the Memorial Marco Pantani confirming his end-of-season peak.

Colbrelli has more than 30 places in his track record but has refined and became more confident in 2021 to confirm his status as a candidate for the World Championships. Like many of his Bahrain Victorious teammates, Colbrelli has found a rich vein of form.

The 31-year-old runner from Brescia can sprint as fast as most of his rivals, can handle the climbs of the Leuven course and has also improved his ability to read a race as Remco Evenepoel discovered at the European Championships. If anyone can beat Wout van Aert on Sunday and thus break the hearts of the Belgians a second time, Colbrelli has the skills to do it.

Matteo Trentin came close to winning the world title in Yorkshire in 2019, before disappearing in the soggy sprint and was beaten by Danish rider Mads Pedersen. He’s determined to make amends someday and this year’s World Championships seems like the perfect opportunity.

The likeable 32-year-old played the role of road captain in Trento, but will have the freedom to ride for himself in Flanders on Sunday. He may not be as quick as Colbrelli in a sprint, but he is a master racing tactician and is therefore suitable for the complex Leuven course and the lack of a racing radio.

Trentino built his form via the Vuelta a España and finally won a race at the Trofeo Matteotti last weekend in Italy after a two-year wait.

Giacomo Nizzolo is Italy’s sprint card in case the 268.3km race comes back together for the finish. He was overlooked for the European Championships, which he won in 2020, but is keen to prove his worth in Flanders. Nizzolo is a sprinter who can also tackle the climbs and winding roads of Flanders.

Diego Ulissi is also a threat if the race is particularly selective, while Andrea Bagioli is a real dark horse if an early breakaway stays clear.

PLOUAY FRANCE 29 AUGUST The Italian Giacomo Nizzolo and the Qhubeka Nexthash team prepare for the race ahead of the 85th Bretagne Classic OuestFrance 2021 a 251 km race from Plouay to Plouay OuestFrance on August 29, 2021 in Plouay France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Giacomo Nizzolo at the Bretagne Classic (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)


Italy have a favorite at Colbrelli but also one of the strongest and most united teams in Sunday’s race, confirming their status as a major nation.

Cassani passed on the values ​​of the legendary national coach Alfredo Martini, who managed to reunite Giuseppe Saronni and Francesco Moser in the 80s. So there is no room for the interests and ego of the team and a strong feeling of unity in “La Squadra”.


Italy have Colbrelli and Trentino as leaders and a strong core of domestics, so perhaps their only weakness is their experience winning the biggest races.

The likes of Van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and Peter Sagan are perhaps individually stronger and above all more accustomed to the pressures and expectations of World Championships road racing.

A view of Italy

What’s this La Gazzetta dello Sport’s the cycling correspondent recently said Het Laatste Nieuws, no doubt hoping that it turns out to be a pessimistic balance sheet.

“I don’t think Sonny Colbrelli can do it. He is an excellent driver but he is not at the level of Wout van Aert, the difference between the two is enormous ”, he declared.

“Colbrelli won the European title but the level was not that high, van Aert, van der Poel and Alaphilippe were not there. The Danes and the British were also absent. I don’t know if he has a chance of winning.


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