Bettini edges closer to hanging up the bike

Having ridden his last race on the road at the world championships nin Varese , Paolo Bettini still...

Having ridden his last race on the road at the world championships nin Varese, Paolo Bettini still has a little business on the bike to attend to – the Amsterdam Six.

Partnering with Juan Llaneras in the Netherlands capital, the Italian explained to De Telegraaf that, "I could have also ridden in Grenoble, but I have chosen Amsterdam because I always like to ride in the Netherlands. We're not favourites [for this event] but I want to show my best side."

Bettini's final farewell as a racer will come at the Milan Six-Day, although the 34-year-old says he would have preferred to ride another year. Budgetary issues at Quick Step meant that his contract wasn't extended, hence his decision to retire. "I had offers from other teams, but I just wanted to finish my career with Quick Step. I have been a professional for 12 years, and I've spent 10 of those with my current team. I had no reason to pursue new avenues."

Bettini doesn't feel malice for effectively being forced into that decision, although he believes that manager Patrick Lefevere could have timed his announcement surrounding funding for '09 a little better. "I understand very well that there is less money available," said Bettini, "But he said all the time that it would come. Lefevere just had need to tell us immediately what [the situation] was. Then I had the chance to make a choice at an earlier stage."

Bettini's retirement comes at a time when those in the sport who cheat are being caught with greater regularity, on which the Italian stated that, "What has happened in the Tour is very negative for cycling. I do not understand that there are still riders who think they are going to slip through the controls. In cycling it is as in society as a whole; the good guys suffer from the bad."

And so what next for Il Grillo? "I'll see what comes to me," he explained. "I have no reason to spend hours on the bike seat. So yes, I've certainly thought about running a marathon. The New York [Marathon] appeals to me a bit."

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