Making up for lost time

Italy, March 3, 2005

Hello my friends of Cyclingnews!

It's been a while since I've sent my diary, but finally I'm catching up. The first part of my diary I wrote when I was in Mallorca, after the first race at the Challenge Mallorca. Well I was 7th and my friend Oscar Freire won. But I was satisfied, since I had been pretty sick coming into those races. I had some bad bronchitis since the middle of January and I just couldn't train much. So I went to Mallorca early to try to get my training program back on track. And that was a good idea as I managed to get in some good training before the races started. Our trainer Luca Guercilena was with us and we ended up staying on Mallorca 10 days, which was like a mini training camp. I could ride in pretty warm conditions which didn't bring back my bronchitis and when I raced, I felt good.

Sure I was coughing after the race was over, but the legs were pretty good even if I couldn't follow the changes of rhythm well. But there is still a lot of time because my season really starts when the classics begin, so it's probably better to be sick early in the season and then get better. After Mallorca, I rode Trofeo Laigueglia, then Haut Var and Haribo. I was in OK form in those races even if the weather was crap.

Yeah, since then, the weather all over Europe has gotten really bad and that's really slowed my preparation for the season. All the recent races have been run in lousy conditions, with cold and rain and last Sunday at Kuurne Bruxelles Kuurne it even snowed! It's not the best way forward for a rider like me who's looking to make up for lost time.

For my Quick.Step team, we're going great so far in 2005. Nick Nuyens won Het Volk, the opening race in Belgium. Nick made an incredible breakaway about 15 kilometres from the finish. He's an intelligent rider and he realized right away when he made his move that it was a good one. It protected Boonen, who didn't have to chase, and also let Nick play his own cards. Nuyens is a big talent and I'm sure you will hear a lot about him in the next few years. On Sunday, our Rik Verbrugghe won the G.P. di Lugano in Switzerland, with a big win after two years without and I know it was a big satisfaction for him.

As far as my progress is concerned, on Saturday at Het Volk and Sunday at Kuurne Bruxelles Kuurne, I was hurting when the rhythm changed and I'm not at the right level. I hope that this week the weather is better so I can get in some good training before Tirreno Adriatico.

Talk to you soon!


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He's from California, down near the beach, but this guy's no surfer dude. Paolo Bettini is from La California, near Cecina on the Tuscan coast in Italy. The Quick.Step-Davitamon rider had a fantastic 2004 season, winning his third consecutive World Cup and the Olympic Road Race, finishing the World Rankings as number two. Bettini is back on Cyclingnews in 2005 with his exclusive English-language diary.