Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), after what may have been one of his greatest moments at the Züri Metzgete not even two weeks ago, is now looking to win the last ProTour race of the season, the Giro di Lombardia. Italian website tuttobiciweb.com spoke to "Il Grillo" on the eve of the event, and Bettini affirmed that he felt much better at this time of the year than in 2004, where he finished 1.40 minutes off the winner, Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Caffita).
"It's a race that I like very much and where I feel I can play a part in," Bettini said. "Compared to 2004, I'm in much better condition: then, I was tired mentally. Not that I'm all fresh now, but we're all in the same state at the moment."
Asked who he felt his biggest rivals were at the race, Bettini replied, "Simoni, Schleck, Celestino and Rebellin, in that order. I haven't seen much of Valverde lately, but it seems to me that the course is too difficult for him."
But the Quick.Step rider also thought that the 2004 winner, Damiano Cunego, could be a threat even though he has been suffering from mononucleosis the larger part of the season, and is only getting back to his Giro d'Italia 2004 form slowly. "It will be hard for him to find the strength to emerge again, but he could be very dangerous on the Ghisallo: if he succeeds to get to the front they could play team games with Simoni and condition the race."
Bettini, who also added that the Giro di Lombardia had very little to do with the Züri Metzgete with respect to the parcours and its difficulty, responded to the question of his racing tactics with a little smile. "Tomorrow, we'll all ride for Petacchi...," he concluded.