Bettini to take over Ballerini’s position as Italian national coach
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bettini to take over Ballerini’s position as Italian national coach

by Conal Andrews at 7:33 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships
Decision process over, will succeed close friend.

It’s been predicted, and now it has been confirmed: double world champion Paolo Bettini will take over from the late Franco Ballerini as Italy’s national coach, overseeing the male teams which will aim to win rainbow jerseys in 2010 and beyond.

The decision to appoint the 36 year old has been given the green light by Italian federation president Renato Di Rocco and Gianni Petrucci, the president of the Italian Olympic Committee CONI, and Bettin is expected to take up the position within a month.

“Yes, they asked for my availability,” Bettini confirmed to the Corrriere dello Sport. “How could I say no, thinking about my relationship with Franco Ballerini?”

Double Paris-Roubaix winner Ballerini became the national coach following his retirement from the professional ranks in 2001. He was instantly successful, guiding Mario Cipollini to gold in 2002, and then achieving the same with Paolo Bettini (2006 and 2007) and Alessandro Ballan in 2008.

He also oversaw Bettini’s Olympic gold medal in 2004.

The duo enjoyed a close working relationship and Bettini took up a position as assistant to Ballerini for last year’s worlds. However everything changed on February 7th of this year, when the latter was killed in a car accident.

He was working as a co-driver and navigator for the professional driver Alessandro Ciardi in a motor rally race in Larciano, but their car left the road and crashed. He later died of his injuries at the Pistoia city hospital.

Bettini was one of many who was badly affected by the tragedy, and was immediately named by some as the likely replacement.

Three months on, he is now preparing to take up that same role.

“It is said that one who has won major races like me is then able to do coaching,” he said. “I am available for the world championships in Melbourne, and had already spoken with Franco [about working there]. He had seen the course and had clear ideas. This will follow his plans.”

One complication for Bettini was that his tax affairs are currently being investigated in Italy. It was reported in December that he allegedly owed €11 million, having claimed to be living in the tax haven of Monaco but instead having his main residence in Italy.

However the Corriere dello Sport reports that CONI considers this to be a private matter, and that Bettini is in the process of resolving the situation anyway. His intention is to settle it prior to taking up the new role of leading the Azzuri charge.


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