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Bettini negotiates with wins

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) may continue until next year

Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) may continue until next year (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

World Champion Paolo Bettini returned to his winning ways this week, scoring a stage victory in the Tour de Wallonie on Sunday, which he preceded with a victory in the Trofeo Matteotti. The defending Olympic champion proved that his form has returned after a winless season.

Bettini is at the end of his contract with the Belgian Quick Step squad, and team manager Patrick Lefevere was expecting the Italian to retire at the end of the season. But Bettini, who will head to Beijing to seek his second Olympic gold medal, may continue to race after all. Speaking after his win in Wallonie, Bettini said that he will give Lefevere the first right of refusal to renew his contract. "I have multiple offers, but I will talk with Patrick Lefevere first. We have been working together since 1999, and it would not be fair not to let him have the first try."

"I have had it in my wildest dreams to stop after winning two consecutive Olympic titles and three consecutive world titles on my palmarès. But one thing is for certain," said the Italian, "even if I do not race anymore I will remain in cycling."

Bettini will travel to China along with the Italian men's road team of Davide Rebellin, Damiano Cunego, Franco Pellizotti and Marzio Bruseghin for the road race on August 9.

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