Bettini and the Dream of Sanremo
– Reported by Gazzetta dello Sport –
Having raced and watched Museeuw, Boonen, Knaven. “I’ve watched them and I’ve said to myself: guys, if we can race as a team then we’ll put ‘paid’ to all the others.” He’s said as much to them, his new teammates, Paolo Bettini, winner of the World Cup 2002: “We work well in the classics, and it will be hard for others to hold our wheels”.
These are only the impressions of one week, the first meeting in France of his new team, Quick Step, created from the graves of Mapei and Domo who have left the cycling world. But they are strong impressions, that Bettini insists as almost certainties: “Here there are the men who in one-day races are second to no one. I don’t need to say it myself, but I don’t see any other team that is as strong as ours in these types of races. Also because I’m sure that we’ll race together, there won’t be jealousy and rivalry: take Museeuw, for example. With him I’ve raced two years at Mapei, I don’t know if after the classics he’ll retire or not, but it’s certain that he’s not going to challenge me for the World Cup, even though this year he was second to me. Tom Boonen I don’t know, but his third place at the last Paris-Roubaix speaks for him. He’s young, has an enviable physique, which will be fundamental on certain races that he’ll do well in”.
For him, il Grillo, he’s not changing any ideas this year. “I believe that I don’t need to prove anything, if not to myself: I’ve arrived at a certain level and now I need to stay there. I’m starting this season with the intention of retaking the World Cup and to win two races that have eluded me, Sanremo and the Worlds. I need to get in line with the idea that the Classicissima I could win in a sprint, and not only attacking on the Poggio, like I’ve done on the last two occasions. It’s important that the race is hard before that, and this year we would have succeeded if Di Luca and Dekker hadn’t fallen on the Poggio. The Worlds 2003 is adapted to my physical characteristics, but it’s impossible to finalize my program from now until October. It’s important to conserve the tranquility that I feel now: for the first time I’m in a foreign team, but there are many of us ex-Mapei, including the staff – Lefevere, Parsani, Peteers – masseurs and mechanics.”
“I’m only sorry that we’ll almost certainly not be racing the Giro. In 6 years as a professional, I’ve never won a stage. Before closing my career, I want to change this and also focus on winning the race overall. It will be enough to prepare correctly”. It’s possible for one such as Bettini, who’s constructed himself as a champion one step at a time.
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