Italian coach selects his racers' gears after riding the course
For Paolo Bettini, the devil is in the detail. And he is hoping some tiny but important details can help the Italian men's team win another rainbow jersey in the road race on Sunday.
Bettini took over the high-pressure role of Italian national coach from the late Franco Ballerini in June but has been working hard to ensure he continues Ballerini's impressive record of success.
Bettini traveled to Australia in July to carefully study the course of the road race world championships. Seeing the two climbs on the Geelong circuit convinced him to leave sprinter Daniele Bennati at home and select a more aggressive team that will try to eliminate the likes of Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd and Oscar Freire before the finish.
In Australia, Bettini is the first person down at breakfast in the morning and the last to go to bed in the evening. Nothing seems to escape his attention to detail, even if he feels like a babysitter as much as a coach.
"If I was a pain in the backside as a rider, then these guys are even worse," he joked to Gazzetta dello Sport about his riders.
"I knew part of the job when I used to race. Now I'm discovering the other part. I realise that we've got to organise things so that the riders' day goes smoothly, without any kind of problem."
Bettini has been out training with his riders several times in Australia and even went out alone in the rain on Monday, to study the course one last time on the bike and to reflect on his race strategy for Sunday.
"Riding my bike helps me think. I've made a lot of decisions about my career and my life while out on the bike on my own. While I was riding I also noticed a few details about the course that I hadn't seen before."
One is the gears that the Italian riders will have on their bikes for the race and for the slightly uphill finish.
"The riders who will have to be up there in the finale and for the sprint (Pozzato, Visconti and Paolini) will have a 52-tooth chainring, while riders who will have to do the bulk of the work like Nibali, Bruseghin and Tosatto will use a 53-tooth chainring," Bettini revealed.
He is also using criticism from former world champion Mario Cipollini to motivate the riders.
Cipollini told Cyclingnews that he did not think Bruseghin was fit enough to work hard for the team for several laps of the race and suggested that Bettini has selected the riders he knows best rather than riders with the best form. Bettini has printed off Cipollini's comments and put them on the wall of Bruseghin's hotel room.
He hopes it will motivate the veteran to give his very best on Sunday and allow him to return to Italy with his first world title as national coach.
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