Paolo Bettini has resigned as coach of the Italian national road team and is said to be moving to the new team sponsored by Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso, according to reports in the Italian media. The 39-year old took over the national team in June 2010, but was never able to lead the team to a world title.
Bettini has turned in his resignation to Italian federation president Renato Di Rocco, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport. The announcement of his partnership with Alonso is expected to be made on January 7. The Spanish race driver is setting up a WorldTour team for 2015, with a sponsor rumoured to be in Dubai.
Di Rocco must now appoint a new national coach, and according to Tuttobiciweb.it, has two candidates at the top of his wish list, Davide Cassani and Stefano Zanini. Zanini, 44, rode from 1991 to 2007, and since then has worked as a directeur sportif at a number of teams, most recently Astana.
Cassani, 52, rode professionally from 1982 to 1996, and since then has worked as a commentator for RAI Sports. He was responsible for starting the controversy around Michael Rasmussen at the 2007 Tour de France, when he mentioned seeing the Dane training in Italy when his whereabouts claimed he was in Mexico. Rasmussen ultimately was removed from the Tour, which he led, and was ultimately given a two-year ban.
Bettini was named to head the Italian men's national team in June 2010, to replace the deceased Franco Ballerini. “I was a great athlete, but I don’t know if I will succeed in being a great manager. Certainly I will give everything to achieve great results,” he said at the time.
The results never appeared. The best that his riders were able to do were off the podium, with Filippo Pozzato finishing fourth in Geelong in 2010 and Vincenzo Nibali fourth in Firenze in 2013.
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