What's Cool In Road Cycling

Bettini: World Cup, Worlds, and Contracts

MILANO, 14 August 2002 – The World Cup, the Worlds, the contract. This scorcher of a season for Paolo Bettini has been played on three fronts. Or better on four, if one considers the battle for UCI classification. “Il Grillo” (the Cricket) is in a dance and needs to only think of dancing: this is the reason that Bettini has only been focusing on his racing and has as yet not made any decisions about his contractual future. On Wednesday Bettini took second on a stage in the Tour of Denmark, Thursday he returned to Italy to begin his preperations for the Championship of Zurich, eighth race in the World Cup series that will be disputed Sunday in Switzerland. “Zurich was initially in doubt, because I had put the Tour of Denmark into my program – explained Bettini to Gazzetta.it – I wan’t to honor my agreements with the organizers, but from Thursday on I will be at home to recover from the last few days and prepare solely for the World Cup”.

Sixty eight points are what divides him from the top and his rival, the Belgian Johann Musueeuw. It could have been four less had Danilo Di Luca not beaten him at San Sebastian in the sprint for 6th place. A placing that also would have given him the number 1 position in the UCI rankings where Zabel leads Bettini by only 10 points. Now at Zurich, the big occasion. “Sixty eight points could be a lot or a little. If I win Sunday they become nothing. At Zurich I am almost always in the action. Also with two more races left, one of them favors Museeuw (Paris-Tours) and one me (the Giro di Lombardia). I’ve won it last year, repeating that feat will be necessary also for my placing in the UCI rankings. But I have eyes on Johann: if it’s his day, no course scares him. Hopefully he won’t win, but above all else I need to stay in front and collect points for the Cup. The only time that I underated him was at Hamburg and he beat everyone”.

Eloquent words, clear ideas: Bettini speaks as a leader, which he has already been for two seasons. Also on the subject of the World Championships Bettini has clear ideas: “In this light I believe that I merit a place on the National Team. I know the Belgian course the best and I’m the most adapted as a sprinter. If Cipollini has real intentions of competing in the World Championships he needs to return to racing very soon. Right now we’re training as if he will not be there, he is still retired”. The last table on which he plays is his contract for next season: it’s definetely vague whether or not he will go from World Cycling (Mapei) to the new Belgian Quick-Step team, for the two time winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege wants to stay on an Italian squad. “I already have a contract for a year with World Cycling, but that fact is that I am on the market. At this point I have left open all doors. I haven’t spoken more with Lampre, but I will be with another Italian team”.

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.