Bettini new Italian director? Decision in two months
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bettini new Italian director? Decision in two months

by Samuel Morrison at 9:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships

Paolo Bettini is first in line to replace former Italian sports director, Franco Ballerini, who died last week. The decision on Bettini, who won two World Championships and one Olympic gold under Ballerini, will likely come in two months.

Ballerini, 45, died in Larciano, Italy, due to injuries suffered in a rally car race. The car driven by Italian Alessandro Ciardi, co-piloted by Ballerini, strayed off course and crashed into a wall. Funeral services were held Wednesday in his hometown, Casalguidi.

Italian cycling federation (FCI) president Renato Di Rocco admitted it will be hard to find a replacement. Di Rocco said Friday to La Gazzetta dello Sport that "You would need three people to fill his spot."

Ballerini raced professionally for 16 years, from 1986 to 2001, winning the Paris-Roubaix in 1995 and 1998. He became the most successful national director behind Alfredo Martini, guiding Italy to five wins: World Championships in 2002 with Mario Cipollini, in 2006 and 2007 with Bettini, in 2008 with Alessandro Ballan, and an Olympic gold medal in 2004, again with Bettini.

Bettini and Di Rocco will both need time to decide, though. The likely April decision date will allow Bettini, 35, to finalise his work with his personal sponsors and deal with tax evasion charges.

After retiring in 2008, Bettini assisted Ballerini at the first opportunity, last year's Worlds in Mendrisio, Switzerland. His work was seen as training ahead of Ballerini's scheduled retirement following the 2012 Olympics.

Di Rocco has other candidates to consider, though. Davide Cassani and Maurizio Fondriest, both former team-mates of Ballerini, are in the running.


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