Bettini in Worlds special jersey

"The people along the roads, the enthusiasts and the workers all expect me," said World and Olympic...

Comments on Basso and Puerto

"The people along the roads, the enthusiasts and the workers all expect me," said World and Olympic Champion Paolo Bettini in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport just two days prior to the start of the 2007 Giro d'Italia.

"Maybe it is because of all that I have won that they look to me. If I am here it is because of the Italian public."

Bettini, who is also the current Italian Champion, will line up with the number 1 on the back of a specially designed jersey. The UCI has given him permission to wear a World Champion jersey with a tricolore (red, white and green) boot of Italy on the front. There were only ten of the jerseys made and three will be auctioned on the internet for charity.

"It has great significance, and thanks to the UCI for this special privilege. In 2005 I came here after winning the Olympics and bonded with the public; I won the first stage and took the Maglia Rosa. Last year, I again won a sprint stage. This year, it would be enough for something in between.

"This is cycling," commented the 33 year-old on the current Ivan Basso and Operación Puerto scandal. "When we first heard of the names in Operación Puerto it was said that now is the time to find a remedy. It has become more concrete, because the names of the involved riders have come out, other than Basso, Ullrich and the known names.

"It was like it was all a stunt in Spain, however, he [Basso] and Scarponi made it known how the game functions," he continued. He noted that Puerto is one of the scandals that has become habitual in cycling, and pointed out that there could be more to come. "In the peloton you hear other voices that talk of a blood bank in Valencia. And could the Guardia Civil find this before the Tour, the Vuelta or in two years?"

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