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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

California Dreamin' - The Paolo Bettini Diary 2003

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In action
Photo: © Quick-Step Davitamon

He's from California, down near the beach, but this guy's no surfer dude. Paolo Bettini is from La California, near Cecina on the Tuscan coast in Italy. Bettini is a compact, power packed explosive puncher of a rider who conquered the World Cup title last year for Mapei-Quick Step with his exciting, dynamic style. Bettini learned his trade as the right-hand man for Michele Bartoli, but emerged from his fellow Tuscan's shadow in 2000 with a great win in Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Bettini repeated at L-B-L last year and has now moved on from the glorious but now sadly defunct Mapei team to the new classics super-squad, Quick-Step - Davitamon. Cyclingnews is honored to welcome the likeable "fuoriclasse" Paolo Bettini as a diarist for 2003.

Playing the waiting game again

April 18, 2003

Hello everybody at Cyclingnews!
Before Gent-Wevelgem
Photo: © Jeff Tse
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Well you have probably heard the news about me already that Cyclingnews reported last week. Oh well, too bad but I won't be racing in the second part of the Northern Classico this season. My injury from my crash in Gent-Wevelgem has turned out to be a lot more serious than we thought at first. My shoulder is pretty messed up and that will keep me out of the races I love the most this year. Even more disappointing, this year at Liegi-Bastogne-Liegi, I would have been starting with dossard #1 and that always offers a special feeling for a rider. To not be at the start of the race that has brought me so much fame really kind of annoys me, but that's reality and I just have to accept it.

When I think how this crash in Gent-Wevelgem happened, it seems that destiny was kind of a joke. No, I didn't crash on twisty technical pavé; the road was as wide as the Autostrada, the group was going at a regular pace and there was no strong wind or anything. We were in Ostende and at a certain point, the peloton suddenly moved to the right to avoid a car that was parked halfway up on the left sidewalk. The rider in front of me accidently hit my front wheel and I flipped right over the handlebars. If you think that prior to my crash how much dangerous pavé I'd ridden over and to crash like that, it's incredible!
Ouch in Gent-Wevelgem
Photo: © Yuzuru Sunada
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My shoulder is already a bit better but it still hurts too much to race with. Since I crashed in Gent-Wevelgem, I have not gotten back on my bike. But pretty soon, I can get back to riding; probably right after Easter but I have to be careful in my recuperation to not re-injure anything. For sure this stop will make me change my racing program; in the next few days, I'll be working on a new program with Patrick (Lefevre) and Serge (Parsani) of the Quick.Step-Davitamon team to get in shape for the Tour de France and the World Cup races in August.

Fortunately, I still have a lot of morale and feel very positive about everything. When you are a professional athlete, you have to be realistic about dealing with injuries; it's just part of the job. Last year in the Giro d'Italia I strained my calf muscle; after a stop, I came back and won the Tour de la Region Wallonne right away, so I'm hoping that my comeback will go as well this year. There are still plenty of major races this year where I can do well

Oh well, that's the way it went for me and so I'll be watching Liegi on television. Of course, I'm supporting my Quick.Step-Davitamon teammates. Even without me, our team will be really strong; Frank VDB and Luca (Paolini) are riding very well and I'm sure they will be among the main protagonisti in the upcoming Classico. And of course there's always Johan who you can never tell how strong he might be. Servais Knaven is riding very well now - he's placing up there in every race he rides these days. We'll see how it goes; there are a lot of adversaries and to win a Classic is never easy!

Talk to you soon!