Italian coach Bettini plans for World Championships road race
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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Italian coach Bettini plans for World Championships road race

by Samuel Morrison at 10:54 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships
Eyes young riders, Petacchi and Bennati

Italian coach Paolo Bettini is planning for the World Championships in Copenhagen this September. He is observing his candidates, and is impressed by Daniel Oss and hopeful for Daniele Bennati and Alessandro Petacchi.

"They've started off strongly. [Andrea] Guardini in particular. It is true that he raced in Malaysia [at the Tour of Langkawi], but winning is always difficult and repeating it, more so. He's succeeded four times [in repeating his first]," Bettini told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Watch [Daniel] Oss, who confirmed in [Giro di] Calabria to be at the top. He's ready to make the next step, it may already come at the Northern Classics. He has the build and the potential waiting to be used. In the future, he could be one of the pavé greats."

Bettini accepted the role as national coach on June 23. The post was left vacant after Franco Ballerini died from injuries suffered in a rally car crash on February 7 in Larciano, Italy. Under Ballerini, Bettini won the World Championships twice (2006 & 2007) and the 2004 Olympic title.

Ballerini's first success was the 2002 World Championships in Zolder, Belgium, with Mario Cipollini. Cipollini criticised young cyclists recently, and Bettini partially agrees.

"Mario says a lot of things, sometimes some he's on target. I agree that there is a lack of 'hunger' with the young riders. It is a reflection of society. Once there was a need to assert yourself, because cycling was your work and the opportunity for redemption. Today, they feel as if they've already arrived," Bettini added.

"I was very impressed with Oss at Worlds [in Geelong]. He's down to earth, listens to the veterans and absorbs like a sponge. Today, the kids with computers, iPods, PlayStations and Skype are isolated and do form a group. Often they don't even talk with their room-mates."

Bennati and Petacchi, two of Italy's 'experienced' cyclists, may lead the team in Copenhagen. The course is flat, like Zolder, and suits sprinters.

"I hope that Bennati has solved all his problems and returns to the top. He's been away for too long. Can he be useful [for nationals]? Eh, I didn't just say his name by chance. To convince me, he has to win races of a certain distance. Milano-Sanremo in itself is not decisive for the Worlds."

"Petacchi? As long as a cyclist can race, because he is not suspended or disqualified, I'm not authorised to judge him. The others need to do so, explain the reason, and in a short time. Why should I be influenced by political decisions?"

Italy's Petacchi won the sprinters green jersey at the Tour de France last year despite a doping investigation at home. In April, police searched properties owned by Petacchi and his wife, and the home of Lampre team-mate Lorenzo Bernucci. Their search found banned pharmaceuticals at the home of Bernucci.

Bernucci confessed in a hearing on August 24. The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) recommended a six-year ban for him in December. Petacchi may be next.

Bettini would like not rely solely on Petacchi for the World Championships.

"In the past we had Bettini, [Danilo] Di Luca, [Davide] Rebellin, [Damiano] Cunego, [Filippo] Pozzato. Staking everything on a single leader is a gamble. Petacchi is my age, Bennati six years younger. Petacchi has shown he can win against them all and can recover well," said Bettini.

"On an easy course, honesty is a must. But if I had to choose a single victory as coach, then I hope that it all comes together for Olympics in London."


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