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World champion to focus on Ardennes week

Greg Johnson and Paul Verkuylen
March 26, 2008, 0:00 GMT,
April 22, 2009, 19:15 BST
First Edition Cycling News, March 26, 2008
Paolo Bettini (Quick Step)

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step)

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Dual UCI World Road Champion Paolo Bettini will skip a number of races previously on the Italian's...

Dual UCI World Road Champion Paolo Bettini will skip a number of races previously on the Italian's schedule to focus on the Ardennes week. The Quick Step rider is currently training in Tuscany with team-mates Dmytro Grabovskyy, Leonardo Scarselli, Andrea Tonti and Davide Vigano.

"I won't race in E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen race," said Bettini. "It's a difficult decision, and everyone knows how much these classic races mean to me. I talked with team manager Patrick Lefevere and he supports my decision.

Bettini explained his reasoning for the change in program, the reining World Champion explained that he'd rather give his spot to a team-mate in better form.

"To be competitive on these types of very demanding races, you need to be at 100 percent," said Bettini. "At this time I cannot give this kind of guarantee to my team, and for this reason I'm ceding my place to somebody else who can be more effective for the team."

While Bettini may well be giving up his participation in the Tour of Flanders, amongst other races, the Italian is focused on a strong campaign in the so called Ardennes week. There Bettini will contest the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, races better suited to the rider.

"I'm giving up Flanders with the aim of being more competitive in the Ardennes classics," he reiterated. "My plan of approach with pass through Brabantse Pijl next Sunday and the race in the Vuelta al País Vasco scheduled from the April 7-12.

"This last race should give me the right condition up to the Ardennes," he added, "like in 2002 when I won my second Liège-Bastogne-Liège".

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