By Gregor Brown
The Paolo Bettini Fan Club successfully organised the first Bettiniadi with the help of the city of Bibbona, home of the two-time World Champion. Italian cyclists of the of the 2007 Italian national team squared off with journalists in school yard games Sunday, December 2, the day after the presentation of the 2008 Giro d'Italia parcours.
Other than Bettini competing, there were Alessandro Ballan, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Daniele Nardello, Luca Paolini, Filippo Pozzato, Leonardo Scarselli, Matteo Tosatto, Andrea Tonti and Italian Champion Giovanni Visconti. The journalists were headed by Stephen Farrand, an Englishman based in Livorno.
The Bettiniadi Games (named after Bettini and 'Olimpiadi', Olympic Games in Italian) were highlighted by the tug of war, sack race and the mobile phone launch, and saw the riders prevail over the writers. 'The Killer' Di Luca let off a little steam by launching his mobile some 22 metres.
An Octoberfest beer tent accompanied the games, and provided a venue for the ceremonies. The teams exchanged gifts; the riders gave the journalist two bottles of extra virgin olive oil, while the journalist gave two bottles of wine, a bottle of shampoo for 'clean cycling' and a condom with the slogan, "I won't risk my health."