Bettini takes a stage and looks ahead to worlds

After a solid win on stage 16 of the Vuelta, Paolo Bettini said he was "extremely happy" with the victory. " I've been looking for a win for some time after all of the physical problems that have unfortunately marked my season," said Bettini after the stage. The Italian has had an indifferent season in 2005, and after winning the World Cup and Olympic road race in 2004, he could be forgiven for being disappointed with his slim pickings this year.

"I dedicate this victory to a 'leoncino' who has overcome a difficult moment and also to myself," said Bettini in the moments after arriving in Valladolid. "With Petacchi I've been ahead of all of the greatest sprinters at least once during the last few years."

The Italian outlined his plan of attack for the day, run in difficult, windy conditions. The inclined finish suited him perfectly, and he knew it. "Today I decided I wanted to try my luck at the final sprint. I made my move about 400 metres from the finish line - no one was able to keep up with me," he said

Looking ahead at the World Championships, a race he would dearly love to win, Bettini indicated his chances might be slim, but he wasn't giving up hope. "I've been in good form at the Vuelta and have a good rhythm and I feel ready to face the World Championships in great form," he said. "In Madrid, the national team, rightfully, will be riding around Petacchi; as far as I am concerned I'll be looking to make the most of any and every situation that arises during the race."

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