Italian Paolo Bettini made such huge improvements in his first six day race that now Silvio Martinello is considering the road world champion for a spot on the track team for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Il Grillo, the reigning Olympic champion on the road, will seek to defend his 2004 title but could have a spot on the track squad for the points race.
"We passed a lot of months talking about the ProTour and DNA, and it seems never ending," commented Martinello, Italian federation technical director, to tuttobiciweb.com. "And we have lost the occasion to celebrate a champion like Paolo Bettini, a rider who in the last months has done some sensational riding, and considering in the same time he lost a close loved one.
"His talent was measured in the six days and it was great publicity for world cycling. Personally, I made note of this to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) in which there is a great appreciation for Paolo Bettini because he has made a positive impression for track cycling. And Patrick Sercu, director of the Six days of Grenoble, called me to say that in a few days Paolo had improved 200 percent. ... It will now be nice to see the world champion go to Monaco, one of the most difficult six days on the calendar."
Martinello noted that in light of Bettini's recent performances, he is thinking of a spot for the Italian in the Olympic track team. "Paolo believes in what he is doing and I know that he has also started to dream of Beijing. It would be an extraordinary project to see him on the track for the Olympics, maybe in the points race."