Bettini nervous about Pozzato’s form heading towards world championships
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bettini nervous about Pozzato’s form heading towards world championships

by Conal Andrews at 6:40 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships
 
Italian team leader has just one win this season, unable to add to that in Vuelta

Paolo BettiniItalian national team selector Paolo Bettini has already named Filippo Pozzato as the leader of the world championships squad, but has admitted that he is worried about the 29 year old’s form.

The Italian rode the Vuelta a España to prepare for the worlds, but had a very quiet race. He netted just two top ten placings, namely fifth on the stage to Murcia and then third into Toledo.

The latter stage was targeted by the Team Katusha rider but, as Bettini saw, he was outclassed by the rider who is seen by many as the big favourite for the worlds.

“Pozzato wanted to test himself in the Vuelta on the stage to Toledo, but at 600 metres from the finish line, I had still not seen him in the picture,” Bettini said to La Gazzetto dello Sport. The Belgian Philippe Gilbert won that day ahead of Tyler Farrar (Garmin Transitions), with Pozzato a second back in third place.

Pozzato has just one win to his credit in 2010, namely stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia. While his ability is unquestionable, he has a reputation of folding under pressure, or else attacking at the wrong moment.

Of the non-Italians, Bettini considered the prospects of four names when they were put to him by SportItalia.

“At the moment, Gilbert really looks like the man to beat, I think we all saw what he did in the Vuelta,” he said. “He twice said he was going for the win and got it both times.”

He sees Oscar Freire as very much someone to watch, pointing out that he has already won three world championship titles. “He will definitely be there at the end.”

As for Fabian Cancellara and Mark Cavendish, he’s a little less convinced about their potential for taking the rainbow jersey this year. Bettini said that he thinks the former has been a bit distracted of late, and that the circuit may be a bit too hard for the latter.

Whatever about the rivals, he can simply do what he can to make sure that the Italian team is physically ready and mentally focussed. He is particularly determined to take this year’s worlds as a tribute to the previous team coach Franco Ballerini, who died earlier this year in an accident during a rally car competition.

“We want to win at all costs, one of our riders must win,” he said. “We need to do this to honor the memory of Franco Ballerini, to whome we dedicate this jersey.

“I don't know if we will win…maybe we will even not win. But we must make that commitment, give that respect and that love for the blue jersey that Franco always sought and obtained. We have to race like Franco would have wanted, that is the only way that we can honour his memory. He would have been here with us, had fate not taken him away. So of course we will race for Franco.”

Bettini won two world titles, triumphing in 2006 and 2007, and also took the 2004 Olympic road race. He retired at the end of the 2008 season.

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