An outsider for a spot on the Italian Olympic team come London in 5 months time, Manuel Belletti (AG2R) says that though he's not confident about his chances for selection, he's happy to at least be in Paolo Bettini's thoughts. Belletti is currently in Tuscany for an official Olympic testing and bonding camp along with 18 other riders on the long-list for Games selection.
"I am pleased to be here again with the national team set-up, it's nice to have an affirmation of faith from Paolo Bettini," said Belletti. "Last year the retreat we had in Sicily was a nice way to do some 'different' training - a bit of a unique build-up and approach to some of my early objectives. I think camps like this are great to bring the team together as well. Something that's important in an Olympic year."
The 26-year-old enjoyed a successful 2011 with Colnago-CSF in which he picked up four victories, and raised his profile enough to earn a ride in the WorldTour with AG2R. He started his year in Australia at the Tour Down Under picking up three top 10 stage finishes in an impressive showing for the Italian. His form has built steadily since and was a respectable 13th in the Belgian semi-classic Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Belletti says that Tirreno-Adriatico is his first big goal of the year, and he hopes to post a win or two soon to help press his chances for the Olympics.
"Physically I'm fine and I've been getting better everyday. I'm hoping that I can do something next week at the Tirreno-Adriatico, I think it suits me really well but I guess we'll see. After that I'm off to Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Romandie and then the Giro."