Bettini in His Own Words
– Reported by Mapei –
“I thought a final like this only existed in my best dreams”. These were Paolo Bettini’s words as he made his way to Brussels airport.Paolo is reliving the moments of a mission that has enabled him to be established as one of the very best in races of the Ardennes.
His telephone is constantly ringing with people wanting to congratulate him; the MAPEI-Quick Step champion never forgets his admiration for the way his team mate Stefano Garzelli helped him during the race. “Stefano is an incomparable team mate, without his help the breakaway would never have been successful”. Garzelli broke away from the group on the Cфte de la Vecquйe after Codol started quickening his pace. Very shortly Celestino, Basso, Spezialetti, the German racer Kessler and Paolo Bettini caught-up with them. It seemed as though this action was destined to finish on the terrible Redoute, an up-hill section that has often decided the outcome of the “Doyenne”.
This wasn’t the case though, as it was at the summit of the Redoute that our two riders started their mission. “Garzo – explains Bettini – was the pace setter during all of the up-hill sections separating the counter attackers group. I was a little more covered, as I am the faster rider. During the final we notified Parsani of our wishes to try and attack on the Saint-Nicolas”.
Parsani, our experienced Sporting Director with a total of 3 wins gained at the Liege race, gave us free reins to carry out our plans. This is when Garzelli launched himself and was followed by just Bettini. No one was up along with them as they carried on riding, regularly interchanging their positions amongst themselves right up until 400 metres from the finish line. This is when they carried out another masterpiece. After 50 kilometres of breakaway, the two teammates shook their hands and exchanged a few words “may the best man win”.
Garzelli started his sprint to the finish line before Bettini, who, being faster than him, was able to catch him up and overtake him just a few metres from the finish line. This is the first time that the team has gained both 1st and 2nd place at the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race; a remarkable accomplishment for us that brings back memories of a legendary result gained at the Roubaix a few years ago.
The crowds of people are amazing; journalists from all over the world are acclaiming the two champions. This is their moment. “We’ll realise the entity of what we have accomplished today when we wake up tomorrow morning – explains a very happy Garzelli. At the moment I still can’t believe it. Are you disappointed with your 2nd place? Are you joking? My objective for the season is the Tour Of Italy where the second stage finishes here at Ans. I am sure that I’ll be able to count on Betto that day”.
“It’s true – his team mate Bettini replies. I wanted to produce sparks during the first few stages of the Tour, but now my objective will be that of being a shoulder for Garzo to lean on. We really are a closely knit team and today we proved this today”. The car that the two riders are in is swiftly making its way to Brussels airport; very shortly their families will greet them at home. Grillo Bettini adds – “I really can’t forget the work my teammates carried out: via our radios Parsani told me today that behind me I had Noи, Evans and Nardello who were keeping an eye on the main group and that we were protected. A big thank you also goes to my great friend Paolo Fornaciari and Luca Paolini who were both fantastic during the first part of the race.
There is another happy element to the race, the fact that the World Champion Oscar Freire Gomez, at his debut of the Liege race, finished in 22nd place. This is another example of his excellent level of riding”. “I’ll be the winner of this race sometime soon” says Oscar Once again, thanks very much lads!