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Photo ©: Sirotti

California Dreamin' - The Paolo Bettini Diary 2004

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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. 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.

Boxed in at Kuurne

March 1, 2004

Hi Cyclingnews readers,

Paolo Bettini drives the front group up the Cote de Trieu
Photo: © Lars Rønbøg
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I'm sorry, but I couldn't give you my second win of the season Sunday. But I lost just by a little bit! After Het Volk was cancelled Saturday because of bad weather (snow and cold), everyone was looking at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne Sunday which became the big race of the weekend. At the start of K-B-K, it was incredibly cold and as always, this was a very hard race. Our Quick.Step-Davitamon team was always in the race, and with 10km to go, there was an attack at the front and I went after the move. Eight riders got away and it was the break of the day, even though the other teams that missed the move were chasing hard. We worked well together up front, just until the moment when the sprint started.

I was boxed-in in the sprint with 400 meters to go, but I got out into the open and made my jump. In the last 100 meters, I thought I was going to come around De Jongh, but when I put it in the 11, the derailleur started to jump! So I couldn't do anything to get by him and finished second. I was really disappointed, but I know I rode a good race in any case.

Our Quick.Step-Davitamon team worked really well all day and Johan Museeuw really impressed me. He's gotten over the stomach problems he had at the Ruta del Sol and I can tell you that he's in great condition. Museeuw was riding well and as the great rider he is, Johan rode for the team on Sunday. It's always a honor to ride in the same team as a great champion like Museeuw and also with an emerging power like Tom Boonen. Take a note of his name; Boonen will be a great one like Museeuw.

Okay, now I've got 10 days of training to sharpen up my form for Tirreno Adriatico and Milano San Remo. The season is now live!