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California Dreamin' - The Paolo Bettini Diary 2004

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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. The Quick.Step-Davitamon rider had a fantastic 2003 season, winning his second consecutive World Cup, this time with three wins in one season - a feat unequalled by any other rider - plus an Italian championship and the world number one ranking. Bettini is back on Cyclingnews in 2004 with his exclusive English-language diary.

Hot times coming

February 25, 2004

Hey everybody on Cyclingnews,

Come va? Tutto bene? I'm tired from the Tour du Haut Var, a really hard race across the hills of southern France near Draguignan. It's a difficult day on the bike, with about 3500 metres of total climbing - almost as much as a mountain stage of the Tour! And this year, the lousy weather was with us from the first to the last kilometer. We were suffering!

It rained all day without a break and so I kept the rain jacket on until the last 20km. But in any case, I'm satisfied with my performance at Haut Var. A placing doesn't really count. The most important thing in a race like this is that you manage to stay in the front, which shows that your form is improving, that you feel good. But in the last kilometre, I wasn't brilliant; I had a small case of hunger knock. Once in a while, that happens. When it rains, it's very hard to eat right and often you don't even feel like eating.

But like I said before, I'm feeling good so far this season and I'm coming into the first "hot period" of the season very well. This Saturday, I'll be in Belgium for the Het Volk, a super-hard race that my teammate Musseuw won last year. So this year, we'll ride for him and perhaps even Boonen - maybe even me if I have the possibility to do something.

For the time being, between all the time I'm spending on the bike training, I'm looking forward to relaxing and hanging out at home this week with my family. Veronica gets bigger every time I look at her and seems that every day, she understands more about the world. It even seems that she knows when I have to go away from her!

Ciao and talk to you next Monday,