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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.

Italy, October 12, 2004

World Cup lead at last

Hello my friends on Cyclingnews,

At long last!
Photo ©: Régis Garnier
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Finally, on Sunday at Paris-Tours, was the day when my season-long chase of Rebellin for the World Cup lead paid off. After nine races, I am now ahead of him by just 13 points; my 340 against his 327.

But if another battle has passed, the war, in a metaphorical sense, will finish Saturday afternoon at the Giro di Lombardia. On paper, the classic of the falling leaves is certainly more favorable to Rebellin. Davide has already shown that he is very strong on this type of course, but I won't just fold. I'll try to follow every key attack in Lombardia. In any case, I've had a very satisfying season in 2004. Once again, for the third year in a row, I am one of the main protagonists in the World Cup, which ought to show some of my continuity as a rider at a top level. And my battle with Rebellin has enlivened the final part of the World Cup. A sporting duel like this is the spice of sport and I'm hoping that the tifosi enjoy an exciting final race to the World Cup series.

Already, Lombardia and the new course has a finale that my friend and teammate Paolini says is really difficult! So I don't leave anything to chance, I'm going to ride the final 50km of the Giro di Lombardia Wednesday, from the Ghisallo climb to the finish to see how I feel. But until then, I've been kicking back and resting after a long, difficult Paris-Tours.

Sunday night, there was a big traffic jam on the ring-road around Paris, so I got stuck there and ended up missing the plane home and had to spend the night there! I only got back Monday morning and just hung out at home to recover and play with my one year-old daughter Veronica.

Ciao, talk to you soon!
Paolo

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