The Italian was below his best for the Spring Classics as a result, but he hit form at the Giro d’Italia in May, where he climbed strongly in support of Hugh Carthy and soloed to a stylish stage victory in Stradella in the final week.
Bettiol placed 14th in the road race at the Tokyo Olympic Games after cramp forced him out of the decisive move and he finished 11th in the time trial four days later. The Tuscan had planned to ride the Vuelta a España in preparation for the European Championships and Worlds, but he missed the Spanish race due to colitis.
In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday, Bettiol confirmed that he will also miss the World Championships in Belgium and that his season is effectively over as he undergoes further treatment.
“After the Olympics, I went to train in Livigno, but the acute inflammation of the colon I had last winter – ulcerative colitis – came back again,” Bettiol told La Gazzetta. “With the team, we decided immediately that I wouldn’t do the Vuelta. I had treated it with medication in the past, but this time the situation wasn’t improving.
“I spoke with the doctors, and they advised me to do another, different therapy: a series of four drips, to be done in hospital [in Turin – ed.]. I did the first one [on Thursday], I’ll do the second in two weeks, the third in a month and the fourth in about two months.”
Although Bettiol is still able to ride his bike, he has resigned himself to bringing a premature end to his 2021 season due to his ongoing treatment.
“We’re treating this illness definitively so that I can be calm and serene,” said Bettiol. “And furthermore, there’s a bit of cortisone in the drip and it would have to be reported to anti-doping for a [therapeutic use] exemption. For my mental wellbeing as well, it’s better to re-set and come back in 2022. The team has been very supportive.”
Bettiol expressed hope that he would be able to start his 2022 season at the Tour Down Under in January, though it is still unclear if the Australian race will go ahead due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“When I won the Tour of Flanders [in 2019] I started in Australia,” He said. “I felt good there and I was already quite competitive that March at Tirreno-Adriatico. I’d like it a lot."
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