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Bettini warns that Australian Worlds course is tougher than anticipated

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Former UCI World Road Champion Paolo Bettini was at the finish of the ninth stage.

Former UCI World Road Champion Paolo Bettini was at the finish of the ninth stage.
(Image credit: CJ Farquharson/WomensCycling.net)
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New Italian coach Paolo Bettini was looked after by staff at local Colnago importer FRF Sports while previewing the course.

New Italian coach Paolo Bettini was looked after by staff at local Colnago importer FRF Sports while previewing the course.
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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New Italian coach Paolo Bettini talks to Giovanni Visconti (ISD) ahead of the ride.

New Italian coach Paolo Bettini talks to Giovanni Visconti (ISD) ahead of the ride.
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Paolo Bettini poses for a photo with the Italian riders and the locals that showed them around the worlds course.

Paolo Bettini poses for a photo with the Italian riders and the locals that showed them around the worlds course.
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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North Sydney's BikeBug had several riders down in Melbourne to show the professionals around, as the shop's parent company FRF Sports imports Colnago into Australia - the brand for which Paolo Bettini is an ambassador.

North Sydney's BikeBug had several riders down in Melbourne to show the professionals around, as the shop's parent company FRF Sports imports Colnago into Australia - the brand for which Paolo Bettini is an ambassador.
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Luca Paolini (Aqua & Sapone) leads the group away from a set of traffic lights.

Luca Paolini (Aqua & Sapone) leads the group away from a set of traffic lights.
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Local riders from Melbourne and Sydney show the Italians around the 2010 world championship course.

Local riders from Melbourne and Sydney show the Italians around the 2010 world championship course.
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) follows the wheel of Luca Paolini (Aqua & Sapone) while scouting the world championship course.

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) follows the wheel of Luca Paolini (Aqua & Sapone) while scouting the world championship course.
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Local riders out on the morning were shocked when the wannabe pros they spotted were in fact the real deal.

Local riders out on the morning were shocked when the wannabe pros they spotted were in fact the real deal.
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Daniele Bennati (Liquigas-Doimo), Luca Paolini (Aqua & Sapone), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Giovanni Visconti (ISD) chat at a set of lights in Melbourne, Australia.

Daniele Bennati (Liquigas-Doimo), Luca Paolini (Aqua & Sapone), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Giovanni Visconti (ISD) chat at a set of lights in Melbourne, Australia.
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)
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Former world champion Paolo Bettini talks to Luca Paolini (Aqua & Sapone) while stopped at lights in Geelong.

Former world champion Paolo Bettini talks to Luca Paolini (Aqua & Sapone) while stopped at lights in Geelong.
(Image credit: Daniel Simms)

Italian national team manager Paolo Bettini has returned from his reconnaissance of the World Championships Road Race course in Geelong, Australia, and has spoken of a tricky route that reminds him of an “Amstel Gold Race without the final climb of the Cauberg”. Bettini spent two days this week previewing the route in the company of Daniele Bennati (Liquigas-Doimo), Luca Paolini (Aqua & Sapone), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Giovanni Visconti (ISD).

This year’s World Championship route is an unusual one, in that the race starts in Melbourne and the riders must ride 85km to Geelong before covering eleven laps of the circuit there. While the race will undoubtedly be decided in Geelong, Bettini can envisage the early section as being anything but a procession.

“For almost 60km you’re basically riding in open countryside on an undulating route exposed to the wind. A lot of wind. They told us that the windy season is September and October, so we know that we’ll be up against a sort of mini Ghent-Wevelgem”, said Bettini, speaking at a press conference this morning.

The Geelong circuit itself also appears to be more difficult that widely touted. “It’s testing, it’s no Zolder,” Bettini warned. “Over the 175km that we’re on the circuit there we climb a total of 2,700 metres. The finishing straight has a 700m stretch of climbing at 6%, then a little section that climbs again to 4-5% to the line.”

“There are two major climbs on the circuit, both tough. The first is 1.1km with three changes in rhythm. The second is a long straight that reminds me a little of Wallonia. It might well be a circuit suited to a fast man who knows how to climb as well.”

When asked to compare it to his last world title-winning ride in Stuttgart, Bettini felt that the Geelong course is tougher. “Stuttgart was a hard course, but there were 3 or 4km in which you could recover. This one doesn’t give you that chance, because it’s all very undulating,” Bettini explained.

The rigorous commitment to detail so evident in the late Franco Ballerini’s reign as Italian manager is something Bettini clearly aims to replicate. He and his charges not only reconnoitred the course itself, but also training roads in the area. “The location in which we’re staying is a flat area all told, so it will be hard to find climbs of a certain kind. It’s a problem that needs to be overcome, because we have two weeks of training there ahead of us.” The Italian squad will depart Italy on September 21 ahead of the race on October 3.

The two-time world champion and Colnago ambassador was pleased with the participation of Bennati, Paolini, Pozzato and new Italian champion Visconti. “We had a good experience together and it was constructive to discuss the circuit with them. On Wednesday morning they did 90km on the circuit. Yesterday I rode with them. A lap on the bike and then one in the car before going to the airport.”

Bettini was also happy to be back in the saddle himself. “Think about it, I had to go to Australia to get back on the bike!” he joked. “But I would have liked that circuit [as a racer], legs allowing. It’s a course that’s good for Freire. It could end up in a sprint of up to sixty riders, but the winner will be a fast rider who can handle mixed course. Valverde, Bettini and Jalabert would have been very suited to a course like this.”