Bettini still undecided about taking over for Ballerini
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bettini still undecided about taking over for Ballerini

by VeloNation Press at 10:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships, Olympics

Former professional cyclist Paolo Bettini has admitted that he's still undecided on whether he will take the place of the late Franco Ballerini as the Italian national coach. The Italians were close friends and, while the position is open for him to take over, he has some reservations about assuming the post.

"I am pleased that Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) president [Renato] Di Rocco would like me to take over Franco Ballerini's role," Bettini said to Sky Sport24 at a charity event held in Viareggio.

Bettini was the most decorated rider during Ballerini's time as national coach, riding to two successive road World Championship titles (2006, 2007) and Olympic gold on the road in the Athens Games (2004). He served as an assistant director to his good friend at the World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland last year, and had expressed interest in taking over the position as coach when Ballerini decided to step down.

"I would like to take over for the current team director Franco Ballerini,” he told the Gazzetta dello Sport in August of last year. “He is very good, but if he stops, I would love to take his place."

Following Ballerini's tragic death in a rally car accident earlier this year, a sport which they participated in together, Bettini's reservations toward assuming the position are understandable. Immediately following the incident rumors of his appointment began to circulate, and the Italian is no doubt experiencing a range of emotions on the matter.

"For me it is not easy," Bettini said of his decision. "I was good at winning the World Championships and at the Olympics with Franco, but it's one thing to be the athlete and win, and something completely different to be a good technician."

While Bettini is the obvious emotional choice to take over the helm, he will need more time to decide whether he feels he is the right man to fill the big shoes Ballerini left to fill. With four road World Championship titles and an Olympic gold during his time as national coach, he will certainly be a tough act to follow. Regardless of his choice, this year’s World Championships in Geelong, Australia will no doubt see an emotional ride from an inspired Squadra Azzura.


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