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Italians go for Bettini

Italy's Paolo Bettini, 34, with eye on the World Championships

Italy's Paolo Bettini, 34, with eye on the World Championships (Image credit: Unipublic)

By Bjorn Haake in Zamora

The Italian National road team will go 'all for one' at the World Championships in Varese, September 28. Paolo Bettini will be the protected rider for the squadra azzurra. The decision to build the team around the double World Champion has left some strong riders out, like Filippo Pozzato, who finished second yesterday behind Belgium's Tom Boonen in the Vuelta a España stage 16.

Boonen himself was puzzled by the fact that a strong rider was left out and had said that the Belgian's simply select the strongest riders, whereas the Italians build a team around one man. This may actually benefit the Italians, who have been divided amongst themselves in the past. The clear strategy worked in 2002 when the team backed Mario Cipollini to win in Zolder, Belgium.

Bettini's key domestique, Marzio Bruseghin, agreed with the strategy. "Given the way Bettini is going, he will be one of the favourites. He won the last two, now we will try to get him to win the third," he said to Cyclingnews.

Paolo Tiralongo, Bruseghin's Lampre teammate, described that everything seems set. "Bettini is calm and I think he will have a great Worlds."

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