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Bettiol hoping to return to full training after ulcerative colitis treatment

Team EF Education rider Italys Alberto Bettiol celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 18th stage of the Giro dItalia 2021 cycling race 231km between Rovereto and Stradella on May 27 2021 Photo by Luca Bettini AFP Photo by LUCA BETTINIAFP via Getty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Alberto Bettiol is hoping to get the green light to start more intense training on Friday after several months of limited workouts and further treatment for chronic ulcerative colitis, a serious inflammatory bowel disease. 

The EF Education-Nippo rider has not raced since the Tokyo Olympics but hopes to make an early return to racing in 2022. 

Bettiol, the 2019 Tour of Flanders winner, was first diagnosed with chronic ulcerative colitis last winter after passing blood and after his pre-season UCI blood tests set alarm bells ringing. 

He underwent immediate treatment but the problem derailed his early-season training and meant he was not competitive in the spring Classics. He bounced back to win a stage at the Giro d’Italia but ended his season with 14th in the Tokyo Olympic road race after his problems flared up again.

"Unfortunately I didn’t have much choice," Bettiol explained to Tuttobiciweb. "The doctors advised me to undergo a new treatment based on drips of Mesalazine. I’ve been treated in Turin by the gastroenterologist Sandro Lavagna, who has been in close contact with the team doctor Kevin Sprouse and my directeur sportif Charly Wegelius, who have been very supportive."

"I’ve been able to train somewhat in the last few months and that’s great compared to what I went through last year, but I’ve got to be patient. Fortunately I’ve become very good at that in the last 12 months, because I’ve learnt to live with this problem. 

"Now I really hope Dr Paolo Cavallo and Alessandro Lavagna of the Medical centre can give me the okay to start serious training."

Bettiol hopes to again be at his best for the spring Classics and so has laid out a European race programme with EF Education-Nippo for 2022.

"My programme starts with the GP La Marseillaise on January 30 and then I’ll ride the Etoile de Bessèges between February 2-6," he revealed. 

"I should ride in Italy in March, with Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo part of the plan. The Tour of Flanders and the Amstel Gold Race are also on the plan but I know that I have to take things one step at a time."

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