Paolo Bettini has expressed the desire to take on a more developmental role at the Italian Cycling Federation and has recommended that Max Sciandri succeeds him as Italian national team coach.
Sciandri is currently a directeur sportif at BMC with particular responsibility for scouting young riders. The Anglo-Italian previously worked with British Cycling, overseeing its academy riders’ progress in Tuscany.
“I’ve proposed Maximilian Sciandri to [FCI president Renato] Di Rocco as the new commissario tecnico,” Bettini told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Max was the man who developed Cavendish. In recent years he created the English phenomenon on the road, he opened a base in Tuscany and his mission is to work with youngsters. Max has renewed his contract with BMC but that can be talked about.”
Bettini was appointed commissario tecnico, or Italian national coach, in 2010 following the tragic death of Franco Ballerini and his the last major race of his current term was the Valkenburg world championships in October. Mindful of the relative dearth of young talent emerging in Italy, Bettini has now pitched the idea of taking on a new role overseeing the creation of a coaching and development system.
“I’ve said it to Di Rocco: I will put myself forward for the youngsters,” Bettini said. “It would be in a different way than with the professionals, and I would really like it – talking with clubs, meeting regional recruiting committees and sponsors.
“[I want to] build a system, build Team Italy. We need a spark, and I’m available.”
As part of the overhaul of the system, Bettini has called for the respective national teams to pool their resources to create “modern and dynamic structure.” He suggested that current women’s coach Dino Savoldi could also work with the men’s teams, and touted Gianluigi Stanga for an organisational role.
“The concept is no longer ‘Bettini in charge on his own,’ but a group of coaches with a range of objectives and programmes,” said Bettini, who has also pledged that time trialling will be treated with more deference by the federation.
“In recent years, Marco Pinotti has opened my eyes, he lives by numbers applied to cycling. I see him as the specialist who everyone who rides against the watch can follow – time triallists and pursuiters.”
A pressing concern for Bettini, however, is changing the culture in the under-age ranks, where he believes riders are over-raced, over-paid and overly-cosseted in comparison to other countries.
“In Italy, an under-23 rider does 90-105 race days a year, whereas abroad they do 35-45. In Italy, they earn up to €2,400 a month. They feel themselves to be champions, and then they don’t know how to start again with humility as professionals,” Bettini said.
“We live on traditions in Italy, and they are beautiful, but if the world changes, we too have to look, study and change.”
The FCI's federal elections are slated to take place on January 12, and Gazzetta anticipates that structural changes will also be discussed at the meeting.