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Paolo Bettini

Paolo Bettini at the World's

Championship disappointment

By:
Cycling News
Published:
October 02, 2005, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:00 BST

Hi to all my friends from Cyclingnews , I'm sorry I couldn't win this year's world championships in...

Italy, October 1, 2005

Hi to all my friends from Cyclingnews,

I'm sorry I couldn't win this year's world championships in Madrid... jeez! I'm so mad! I prepared really well for the championships and it escaped me by just 300 meters. From Madrid, the memories are indelible and pretty painful. Believe me, I've never been stronger in my life than last Sunday. I was pedaling so well, it seemed like my bike wasn't even there! But the World's are a strange race and for me, it's probably even cursed. There are just too many factors that don't directly depend on me that have to go in the right direction. You also need luck; I don't think I had much at Madrid.

Sure, if the course had been slightly more difficult, I think I could have had a chance to win in a small group, maybe in a sprint with Valverde. I tried as hard as I could to get in a good break, and eventually joined a group of 10 riders, with Perdiguero, Valverde, Davis and Gilbert, but I didn't collaborate at all according to our team strategy. Maybe if I had known earlier that Petacchi wasn't having a good day, I might have been able to work with this break and it would have been hard for the group to bring us back then. But the day went like it went.

Nonetheless, cycling has a well-deserved new world champion, Tom Boonen. Tom was superb in Madrid, above all in his mental focus. Believe me, to ride all season long from February is not easy, with all the pressure you have to deal with. Boonen is certainly the #1 rider this season, and has succeeded in achieving something that only great champions have succeeded in doing in the past. Boonen's season is over, while mine has a few more weeks. I want to take advantage of my excellent condition for the ProTour race in Zurich. Then I'll ride the Giro dell'Emilia and finish my season with the Giro di Lombardia. I'll go all out in the next four races to try and forget the world championship and bring my fans a prestigious win. As for the way the season has gone in 2005, I'd say it's not bad to be there and have some chances to win at the end of the year.

So I want to send a big thanks to all of you who have supported me this season and all those (a lot!) who have written to me after the world championship. Even if I can't answer you all, thanks so much for your support!

Ciao,
Paolo

Paolo Bettini

The comeback kid...me!

By:
Cycling News
Published:
March 24, 2005, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 20:00 BST

Hello Cyclingnews friends! Did you see Milano-Sanremo ?! I told you to have patience and the "real"...

Italy, March 24, 2005

Hello Cyclingnews friends!

Did you see Milano-Sanremo?! I told you to have patience and the "real" Paolo would return. Finally last Saturday I was back where I belong. I'm still not 100%, not even 80% yet, but even so, at Milano-Sanremo I managed to do some good things. Our Quick.Step-Ennergetic team decided that I would attack before the Poggio to try and get away and put pressure on the other teams to catch me. If I had reached the foot of the Poggio with more than 0'30, I would have pushed really hard. Otherwise I would wait for Tom Boonen and help him in the sprint. Unfortunately when I made move, I had Kashechkin on my wheel and my former teammate wasn't much help.

If we had been just a little more active and he had worked harder, we might have gotten a lot more time on the chasers. But the sprinters teams got organized behind and when we hit the base of the Poggio, we only had 0'12 advantage. Not enough. So I backed off and went to work to help Boonen. On the Poggio climb, I was right there with him and when we hit the final kilometre I was in the lead going hard, with everyone lined out behind me as I continued to up the pace.

With 400m to go I saw Petacchi was on my wheel, with Tom Boonen just behind him and I thought that I was leaving Tom out in the wind way too early, with the result of a long sprint that wouldn't give Tom much chance to win. So a little later with 300m to go, I swerved left and Peta followed me. Then the tempo slowed and there were a lot of riders coming left.

Suddenly Petacchi made a hard jump and like a champagne cork, he just popped off the front! Alessandro went on to win while Tom had a moment of indecision and got boxed in and couldn't really sprint. Otherwise, I'm sure Boonen would have been at least in the top three at Sanremo.

In any case, the best rider on the day won the race. On the climbs of the Cipressa and Poggio, I looked carefully at Petacchi's face to see how much he was hurting but he was barely breathing hard! I'm really happy about the way the race went for me even if we didn't win. I made a good attack in the finale and was still there to help Tom in the sprint after almost 300 kilometres of racing hard. It's a sign that all the work I did at Tirreno-Adriatico is paying off now. Currently I'm riding in the Coppi Bartali to improve my form further and then it's Giro delle Fiandre. Look for me there, my friends!

Arrivederci,
Paolo

Making up for lost time

By:
Cycling News
Published:
March 03, 2005, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 21, 2009, 12:00 BST

Hello my friends of Cyclingnews ! It's been a while since I've sent my diary, but finally I'm...

Italy, March 3, 2005

Hello my friends of Cyclingnews!

It's been a while since I've sent my diary, but finally I'm catching up. The first part of my diary I wrote when I was in Mallorca, after the first race at the Challenge Mallorca. Well I was 7th and my friend Oscar Freire won. But I was satisfied, since I had been pretty sick coming into those races. I had some bad bronchitis since the middle of January and I just couldn't train much. So I went to Mallorca early to try to get my training program back on track. And that was a good idea as I managed to get in some good training before the races started. Our trainer Luca Guercilena was with us and we ended up staying on Mallorca 10 days, which was like a mini training camp. I could ride in pretty warm conditions which didn't bring back my bronchitis and when I raced, I felt good.

Sure I was coughing after the race was over, but the legs were pretty good even if I couldn't follow the changes of rhythm well. But there is still a lot of time because my season really starts when the classics begin, so it's probably better to be sick early in the season and then get better. After Mallorca, I rode Trofeo Laigueglia, then Haut Var and Haribo. I was in OK form in those races even if the weather was crap.

Yeah, since then, the weather all over Europe has gotten really bad and that's really slowed my preparation for the season. All the recent races have been run in lousy conditions, with cold and rain and last Sunday at Kuurne Bruxelles Kuurne it even snowed! It's not the best way forward for a rider like me who's looking to make up for lost time.

For my Quick.Step team, we're going great so far in 2005. Nick Nuyens won Het Volk, the opening race in Belgium. Nick made an incredible breakaway about 15 kilometres from the finish. He's an intelligent rider and he realized right away when he made his move that it was a good one. It protected Boonen, who didn't have to chase, and also let Nick play his own cards. Nuyens is a big talent and I'm sure you will hear a lot about him in the next few years. On Sunday, our Rik Verbrugghe won the G.P. di Lugano in Switzerland, with a big win after two years without and I know it was a big satisfaction for him.

As far as my progress is concerned, on Saturday at Het Volk and Sunday at Kuurne Bruxelles Kuurne, I was hurting when the rhythm changed and I'm not at the right level. I hope that this week the weather is better so I can get in some good training before Tirreno Adriatico.

Talk to you soon!

Ciao,
Paolo

Winding up for the Classics

By:
Cycling News
Published:
January 18, 2005, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 21, 2009, 12:00 BST

Ciao amici of Cyclingnews ! Well our season has officially started, because last Monday we had our...

Italy, January 15, 2005

Ciao amici of Cyclingnews!

Well our season has officially started, because last Monday we had our team presentation in Tielt, in the heart of Flanders. It was a serious, sober presentation as it traditionally is, and afterwards we had a big dinner with our sponsors and special guests. As always in the beginning of the season, the journalists want to know your season race program and the most important objectives.

Although some of our Quick.Step guys are already "Down Under" with Cyclingnews in Australia for the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, I'm starting my season in Mallorca on February 6 at the Mallorca Challenge, and then Trofeo Laigueglia (15/02), the Tour du Haut Var (19/02) in France and then I'll head north to Belgium for Het Volk.

My entire first part of the season is dedicated to be in top form in the Classics. So right now, I'm actually a little behind in my form than at the same time last year. For me, the biggest races in the first part of the season are the Tour of Flanders and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Of course, Milano-Sanremo and other big northern classics like Amstel Gold Race are also where I want to perform well, but if I have a choice, it's Flanders and Liege where I want to shine.

Right now, the team is in another training camp at the Hotel Stella Marina in Cecina Mare. It's the second training camp and now I'm starting to ride a lot. You know already how important it is now to put in the quality training to be able to have some major successes in a few months. Last week I did a test that showed I am progressing well and I'm exactly where I thought I was.

OK thanks for reading and now I'm going to bed; we have a four hour ride scheduled for tomorrow and I need my rest. See you soon!

Ciao,
Paolo

Charity begins at home

By:
Cycling News
Published:
January 04, 2005, 0:00 GMT,
Updated:
April 21, 2009, 12:00 BST

Hi everybody at Cyclingnews . How's it going? Best wishes from me and my family to you and yours for...

Italy, January 3, 2005

Hi everybody at Cyclingnews. How's it going?

Best wishes from me and my family to you and yours for a very happy new year. In today's Gazzetta dello Sport they are saying that 2005 will be another successful year for me and I hope that they're not wrong...for sure, to have another year like 2004 this year would be fantastic. For the last four seasons, I've had wins of a higher quality every year and so if I'm going to do even better this coming season, it probably means that I have to go for the number one ranking in the Pro Tour. But at this point in the season, I don't want to think about it. And it's way too soon to be thinking about it in the middle of the terrible tragedy of the Tsunami in southeast Asia.

To see all the kids crying and the corpses strewn about by the water is terrible. I thought about my daughter right away and of the suffering of the families of those innocent victims. It's so true that you never know what can happen in life. For my part, I can't do much more than to say that we all have to try and help these people any way we can via the various organizations that are trying to help.

Do you remember in my last column I wrote about the bicycles that we donated to raise funds for the Fondazione IEO; to help the European Institute of Oncology in Milano? Well, they all sold and we ended up raising €200,000 for the Institute! That's the good that charity can do. So try to help the people you can who are not so well off as you are if you can.

Ciao e buon anno,
Paolo

Author
Paolo Bettini

He's from California, down near the beach, but this guy's no surfer dude. Paolo Bettini is from La California, near Cecina on the Tuscan coast in Italy. The Quick.Step-Davitamon rider had a fantastic 2004 season, winning his third consecutive World Cup and the Olympic Road Race, finishing the World Rankings as number two. Bettini is back on Cyclingnews in 2005 with his exclusive English-language diary.