Italian cyclists play football for charity

Filippo Pozzato organized a football match last Wednesday night for charity 'Forza Ragazzi' that saw many current and past cyclists kicking a ball instead of turning the cranks. Italian cyclists and footballers played a light-hearted game of calcio (Italian for 'football') at the stadium in San Giuseppe di Cassola, in the suburbs of Bassano del Grappa.

'Pippo' called on cyclists to help the charity of friend. "Instead of meeting at the usual discotheque, a game of football," said the winner of a stage in this year's Tour de France and one-day Classic Het Volk to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The objective was to help the cause of Forza Ragazzi of my friend, Rino Gattuso, and if it is possible to have some fun, we will have some fun."

Gattuso, born in Corigliano Calabro, plays football for A.C. Milan, and set up the foundation to help disadvantaged families in his home region of Calabria. Cycling agents Claudio Pasqualin and Alessandro D'Amico helped pull the cyclists together, including current professionals Fabio Baldato, Mauro Facci, Franco Pellizotti, Matteo Tosatto and Alessandro Ballan, as well as past footballers Fanna, Maniero, Zoratto, Briaschi and Perrone.

Italian National Director Sportif Franco Ballerini, who recently led Paolo Bettini to victory in Stuttgart, was also on hand. "I suffered in the cold," he noted. "After a couple of goes on the field I could feel the fatigue, after five minutes I was almost blown, after 10 minutes – completely. I ended up on the bench at the end of the first period, but I rejoined for the last 10 minutes."

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