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Pinotti optimistic for worlds TT despite a year of setbacks

MILAN (VN) — Marco Pinotti (BMC Racing) races towards another world championship this month in Florence wiser after a year of setbacks. Crashing on a medal ride in Valkenburg and breaking more bones this year proved a useful reminder for the Italian time trial specialist.

“Never let your guard down,” the 37-year-old told VeloNews with a laugh. “Keep concentrated because behind every corner danger possibly lurks.”

Pinotti is training on the roads around Bergamo after abandoning the Vuelta a España last week. The valleys rising toward the pre-Alps and the patchwork of stradas and vias between provide a sufficient test ahead of the worlds time trial in Florence September 25.

The blinking numbers from his SRM are encouraging. “Every day,” he said, “I’m going better and better.” He performed an intense effort on Tuesday and read his power meter numbers after Wednesday’s ride to see that he recovered well.

The Vuelta scared Pinotti and the Italian team momentarily. He caught a small virus, had a slight fever, and felt off his best in the time trial before abandoning. He placed 25th, three minutes behind Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) — not what he wanted.

“It was better to pull out because if I stayed in the race I wouldn’t have improved,” Pinotti explained on the phone, the sound of his baby calling his name in the background. “If I wasn’t doing the worlds, I would’ve stayed.”

The worlds stands out as a big appointment on Pinotti’s calendar. As a six-time Italian champion, he continues to hope that he can earn a medal one day at the worlds level. The closest he’s come was a fourth-place result in Mendrisio in 2009. On the Dutch course in Valkenburg last year, he was on track for a medal but he slipped through a corner. Instead of finishing on his first worlds podium, Pinotti broke his collarbone and abandoned.

Pinotti broke more bones at the Méditerranéen Tour in February (ribs and the same left collarbone). He bounced back, placed second in the Tour of Poland time trial behind Cancellara, and raced half the Vuelta. However, he remains realistic. Amongst the Cypress and olive trees lining the roads between Montecatini and Florence, he says that he will lose time.

“I’ve looked at the course. It’s 90 percent flat with about only two kilometers climbing. Like every year, three or four names stand out above everyone else but a place from fourth, fifth and down to 10th place is possible,” Pinotti said.

“I see Brad Wiggins, Tony Martin, and Fabian Cancellara going well. Taylor Phinney, too. He’s practically racing on home roads. They have more horsepower. Someone like Brad Wiggins can produce 70 or 80 watts more. On the flats, that’s scary to think about. I’ll keep a positive outlook, though. We are all starting with the same time, with two legs and a bike, so anything is possible.”

Pinotti leaves Bergamo and his family for Tuscany on Tuesday. He joins his BMC teammates for a training camp, which will help decide which six men race the team time trial on September 22. Pinotti then joins Team Italy, changing from his red and black BMC jersey to his blue national colors. As he said, anything is possible as long as he keeps looking ahead and around each corner.