PIC BY LAVUELTA.COM
Once new world champion Paolo Bettini had accepted the congratulations of his Italian team-mates and notables such as Italian prime minister Romano Prodi and former Italian national football coach Giovanni Trappatoni, who now coaches at Salzburg, the Quick Step rider began to reflect on what he achieved on Sunday and how it would affect the coming season.
Appearing on Italian TV on Sunday evening, Bettini said victory at the Worlds in Salzburg did not compare with his Olympic road race success two years ago in Athens. "In Greece, what I achieved was more than just cycling, it placed my name in the history of all sport. This achievement does not carry the same weight, the same flavour," he declared. "But at least I will have the pleasure of wearing the rainbow jersey for a whole season."
As for what that season holds for him, Bettini gave some clues. After considering a move to T-Mobile, the 32-year-old Italian has decided to stay with Quick Step, where one of his main targets will be the Tour of Flanders, won the last two years by his team-mate Tom Boonen. That potentially sets up an intriguing clash within the Belgian team, but almost as intriguing is Bettini's decision to attempt Paris-Roubaix, which he has only previously watched on TV.
"Wearing this jersey I couldn't do anything else," said Bettini of the rainbow tunic he will be seen in for the first time in this weekend's Championship of Zurich, which coincidentally delivered his last big win back in 2005. "Paris-Roubaix is a monument, a pillar of history. I am undoubtedly too light to challenge on the paves, but I want to try it, I consider it a duty."
He even responded to questions about the recent doping scandals that have beset the sport by stating that it is now up to the riders to get involved. "I don't have a solution to the scandals and it's not down to me to come up with one, but now we don't have the choice. The riders have to get themselves involved in this or, quite simply, within two or three years cycling will be dead," said the Italian.
PIC BY LAVUELTA.COM