Bettini confident of world's victory

By Susan Westemeyer

Italy's Paolo Bettini is confident of victory in the world championships in Salzburg, Austria after checking out the course on Tuesday. Bettini and Danilo Di Luca led a national contingent to have an advance look at the worlds course held in September.

"This is my course!" said Bettini, "It's very similar to the Meisterschaft von Zürich." Bettini won that race in 2005.

"It's a very nervous course," Bettini said, "because many of the descents are very narrow. You have to be in the forward twenty from the beginning onwards if you want to have any chance at all." Di Luca said he expects to see such riders as Alejandro Valverde, Alexander Vinokourov and Michael Boogerd near the front. "The course is too hard for Tom Boonen, and for a rider like [Bernard] Eisel. I think [Georg] Totschnig will have better chance on this course," he said.

National coach France Ballerini said he hoped for a situation similar to that from 1982. "That year Italy won football's World Cup and shortly thereafter Giuseppe Saronni won the world title in Goodwood [England]. Why shouldn't that happen again this year? We already have the football title! We'll do everything we can to make the race our own. The course is difficult and we will only have nine riders at the start. Nevertheless, we will have to try everything so that one of us is forward at the end. We want the world title, regardless of which rider it is," he said.

Ballerini said last year's tactics, where the team backed Alessandro Petacchi, would not be repeated, "We have Paolo Bettini, Danilo Di Luca and many other good riders. The final team will be announced the first week of September."

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