Bettini back to his best
After a disappointing Spring Classics campaign, Olympic road champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) triumphed on the road to Tropea yesterday, taking the opening road stage of the 88th Giro d'Italia in convincing fashion.
The difficult finish caught many - including Alessandro Petacchi and his Fassa Bortolo team - by surprise, but 31 year-old Bettini wasn't one caught off-guard: "I saw it the climb the other day and knew it was good for my characteristics as a rider," he said at the finish. "But to say [I can win] is one thing, but to do it is another. So I'm happy, because I haven't won yet this year."
Until yesterday, Bettini had never won a stage of his home Tour, nor the maglia rosa, but he accomplished both on Stage 1, and goes into today's stage from Catanzaro Lido to Santa Maria Del Cedro with a 12 second advantage over Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto) and 14 seconds on Ale-Jet Petacchi.
"My objective at the Giro was to do well here and so far it's good! My wife and daughter were here today and my team rode very well for me. We'll just have to see what happens," said Bettini about defending his race lead. "Maybe I won't defend it, but will try to get it back later."