By Gregor Brown
It was not a good week for the World Champion, Paolo Bettini. The 32 year-old rider from La California (Livorno) crashed a week ago in Milano-Torino, and then on Friday, with forty kilometres to go in Tirreno-Adriatico stage 3 he was caught up in a big group crash, escaping relatively unscathed. But Saturday, with four kilometres from the finish in Offagna, stage 4, 'Il Grillo' hit the pavement again. Bettini started the stage hoping for a victory, but finished it battered and bruised, and spent a two hour stint post-race in the hospital for exams.
Bettini's reflexes were working on stage four, but perhaps too well; when he saw Martin Elmiger (Ag2r Prévoyance) lose control in a turn he reacted and ended up in the gutter trying to avoid the Swiss rider and collided with a pole. Bettini ended up with bruises and cuts to his left arm and leg.
After the stage, he was taken to the hospital in Ancona where he stayed for two hours according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. Doctors took x-rays of his chest, knee and arm, and then ruled out any fractures. Moreover, an MRI was performed on his left knee, which Saturday night he was not able to bend completely.
On Sunday, he decided to continue Tirreno, hoping to build his form for Milan-Sanremo on Saturday, a race he won four years ago. "I am upset because this is my third crash in one week, and also because the poles on the curve were not protected well enough," complained the World Champion. After the time trial he added, "I am not able to abandon, in the next two weeks my entire season is played out."