Betttini: An Italian team dedicated to Ballerini
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Betttini: An Italian team dedicated to Ballerini

by Samuel Morrison at 7:08 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships
Former World Champion and new Italian coach discusses his team selection for the Worlds

Paolo Bettini will direct team Italy at its first World Championships since the death of Franco Ballerini in February. Yesterday, he announced the team he will take to Geelong, Australia, for next month's race and that they will race in honour of the former head coach.

As a reminder, team Italy's famous Azzurro (sky blue) jerseys will have a special dedication to Ballerini: "Ballero sempre con noi" ("Ballero always with us").

Bettini won three titles under Ballerini's direction – the 2006 and 2007 World Championships and the 2004 Olympic road race. He officially took over Ballerini's role in June.

"I called the riders after the death of Franco, but to understand them and to help them. After I accepted my new role and left the Italian headquarters, I started to call the guys for the World Championships," Bettini told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I accepted the role as head coach because there is work to be finished. Unfortunately, I picked up where Franco left off, with the idea of racing as he wanted and putting together a loyal group of professionals. I also put in some of my character. Racing the World Championships was a magical experience for me and I tried to convey this feeling."

Bettini announced in Rome yesterday the 11 riders (nine riders and two reserves) who he will take to Geelong.

Italian team:
Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha)
Marzio Bruseghin (Caisse d'Epargne)
Francesco Gavazzi (Lampre-Farnese Vini)
Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo)
Daniel Oss (Liquigas-Doimo)
Luca Paolini (Acqua & Sapone)
Marco Pinotti (HTC-Columbia)
Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step)
Giovanni Visconti (ISD-Neri)
Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2R-La Mondiale) *
Andrea Tonti (CarmioOro-NGC) *
* Likely reserves

Time trial:
Marco Pinotti (HTC-Columbia)

"I needed to put in a trustworthy rider since this is my first experience [as coach]," said Bettini. "I talked With Bruseghin about this. For me, it was enough when he told me, 'If you need me, I'm ready.' Luckily, he did not hurt himself too badly when he crashed at the Vuelta a España [last week]. Tosatto asked me for a few days of testing, then said, "I am here, I know what I need to do.'

"It was difficult to leave behind those who have contributed to my success. In the last days, I called [2008 champion, Alessandro] Ballan, [Enrico] Gasparotto, [Daniele] Bennati and [Mauro] Santambrogio. Bennati was not included based on my idea of an attacking race. Ballan wanted in, but was going a bit slower than I expected. It was not worth sacrificing a former world champion into the role of worker. I've talked about all the risks with Nibali. He is strong, he deserves it.

"We still don't have a true leader. We will decide the roles in Australia, but it is a team ready to race. Excluding that we arrive in a sprint with [Great Britain's] Mark Cavendish, we can't go wrong."


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