Paolo Bettini has lucky escape after his plane crashes into the sea
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Paolo Bettini has lucky escape after his plane crashes into the sea

by Ben Atkins at 10:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Italian head coach in hospital for tests but thought to be unhurt

paolo bettiniPaolo Bettini, Italian classics star turned national team coach, has had a narrow escape after being involved in a light aircraft crash this afternoon, according to la Gazzetta dello Sport. The Tuscan was in the passenger seat of the plane, which was piloted by a friend, flying over the Tyrrhenian coast near Piombino, in the province of Livorno. For some reason the pilot was unable to keep the aircraft in the air, but managed to successfully ditch in the water.

Bettini and his friend were able to swim away from the plane, where they were first picked up by a fishing boat, whose crew radioed the coastguard for help. A rescue boat was sent out, which transported both back to land. The Italian coach is reported to have suffered a minor injury to his leg, but both have been taken to hospital for observation.

Bettini was one of the most successful one-day riders of the previous decade, whose victories included Milano-Sanremo, two editions each of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro di Lombardia. He was also Olympic champion in Athens 2004, and World champion in 2006 and 2007. After retiring from racing he worked closely with former teammate and close friend Franco Ballerini, who was Italian coach from 2002.

After Ballerini’s sudden, tragic death in a rallying accident in February 2010, Bettini took over as head coach to the national team. The nature of Bettini’s accident will doubtless remind many of the tragedy of Ballerini’s death.

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