Bettini quits as Italy’s national coach, has been in initial talks with team of Fernando Alonso
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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bettini quits as Italy’s national coach, has been in initial talks with team of Fernando Alonso

by VeloNation Press at 7:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Former world and Olympic champion ready to try something new

Paolo BettiniDouble world champion Paolo Bettini is set to leave his position as the Italian national coach, with a place with the planned team of Fernando Alonso looking likely to be his next destination.

The 39 year old former professional took over the position in 2010, succeeding the late Franco Bellerini. Earlier this year he proposed handing over the role to Max Sciandri, with Bettini suggesting that he should dedicate himself to developing Italy’s young riders, but he ultimately continued as national coach.

However according to Tuttobici, he has now walked away. It states that Italian federation president Renato di Rocco must now decide who will replace Bettini, with former professionals Davide Cassani, Maurizio Fondriest, Moreno Argentin and Stefano Zanini suggested as possibilities. Of those, Tuttobici suggests Cassani and then Zanini are the most likely choice.

“The choice was definitely not easy, because everyone knows how much I care about the blue jersey,” Bettini said, referring to the national team kit. “But now I need to properly evaluate the things I have on the table. It is not a mystery, the Alonso proposal is very intriguing and interesting, let's say revolutionary, but we are only at an early stage of studying each other.”

He added that nothing has been agreed as yet, and the coming weeks would bring greater clarity.

Formula One driver Alonso has long been a fan of the sport, and is friends with riders such as Alberto Contador and Samuel Sanchez. He was in talks with the owners of the previous Euskaltel Euskadi team about potentially taking it over, but those fell through.

Instead, he is planning to launch his team for the 2015 season, and is said to have secured five year sponsorship from Dubai. It is thought that Contador could race with the team in the future, although he currently has a commitment to remain with Tinkoff Saxo.

Bettini was a professional between 1997 and 2008. In that time he won those two world titles plus the 2004 Olympic road race, plus stages in each of the Grand Tours. He took a number of Classic victories, including two editions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Il Lombardia, as well as one each of Milan San Remo, the Clásica San Sebastián and the Hew Cyclassics. He was UCI World Cup winner in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Now 39 years of age, he feels it is time to move on and do something different. He said that he’s proud to have had the chance to be Italian national coach. “In recent years I have had the privilege of working with great guys, who have been available and who have given rise to an important project, which will go on even without Bettini. I am happy to have lived this experience.”

Bettini’s role as national director has not been as successful as had been hoped; since he took over in 2010, Italy has not medalled in either the Elite men’s road race or in the time trial. The country’s female riders have been more successful, with Giorgia Bronzini winning in 2010 and 2011, and others such as Elisa Longo Borghini and Rosella Ratto taking bronze medals.

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