By Gregor Brown
Italian Paolo Bettini has been awarded the 2006 Velo d'Or from France's Velo magazine. The world champion bettered Ardennes warrior Alejandro Valverde and Paris-Roubaix winner Fabian Cancellara for the prestigious award, which was determined by a panel of journalists selected by the magazine.
Bettini started off slowly this season with a win in the GP di Lugano and a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico, but then he really came to power by taking the Italian championships, the world championships and then the Giro di Lombardia.
The 2005 award also went to a world champion. Tom Boonen claimed the Velo d'Or as part of his awards haul in the winter of 2005.