By Gregor Brown
Two-time World Champion Paolo Bettini will fly into the new year with the intention of defending the rainbow jersey and the Olympic rings from his 2004 victory in Athens, a new interview revealed. The 33 year-old Italian also indicated that he may continue on racing into 2009.
"I will evaluate each race not on the results, but how I arrived. If I did what I wanted to then I am in peace," said Bettini to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Il Grillo Livornese faces up to a challenging 2008 season where he will try to defend both of his prestigious titles, but despite previous assertions he would retire at the end of the season, Bettini now is looking forward to 2009 as well, "It would be beautiful to continue racing so that I can partake in the 2009 Giro d'Italia, which will celebrate 100 years... I can see it now, in Milano, in front of my fans."
Bettini has spent his free time obtaining a pilot's licence, and has even bought a light aircraft. "I bought a Tecnam P92, which is more sophisticated than the one I was using in flight school. A retractile carriage, 100 horsepower, 230 kilometres an hour cruising speed – it will arrive at the end of the spring [costing nearly €50,000 - ed.]. I need to have 35 more hours of solo flying and then I will have the certificate to carry passengers."
The new airplane meant selling one of his cars. "I had two Ferraris, but I sold the Ferrari 360 Challenge; only the F430 remains."
With another Premio Gazzetta in hand, he looks ready to continue to challenge the young guns who have risen up this year. Riccardo "Riccò is one that talks a lot, but also gets the results. He could become the man of the Tours and Classics. Then there is [Filippo] Pozzato ... I am linked to him, but 'Pippo' is not able to live only on one [Milano-] Sanremo. He has so many qualities that he cannot waste these years. If he does not get lost amongst the watches and clothes, he will win all the races there are."