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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.

More gold at Giglio d'Oro

Italy, November 25, 2004

Ciao to my amici at Cyclingnews,

Well it's been a while since I've written so I wanted to drop you a line and tell you what I've been up to. I just got back from a lunch where I was awarded the Giglio d'Oro, the prize for the best sportsman in Tuscany. It's an award that's made me very happy; it's a pretty big deal. After I got back home, I took a nap. I'm a little tired.

A few days ago, I took a little trip up to Milano; in fact to Brenna, where it was "Paolini Day" for my teammate and best friend Luca Paolini. You should have been there. There were more than 500 people to celebrate in the town's Sports Centre and besides me, Zanini, Bramati and the young rider Paride Grillo were there. We had a little gymkhana set up with the local kids in front of the sports centre and that was a lot of fun. The thing that struck me the most was the affection the people of Brenna showed for Luca Paolini. When they showed a video of Luca's career, a lot of people were choked up about it - that was nice and he's a guy who really deserves it.

But that wasn't my only trip around Italy. Last week I was a guest of the University of Milano in the Sports Science Department, along with my Luca Guercilena, who explained to a panel of journalists, workers and students my training program and preparation for the Olympics. It was a good moment, because many were interested to hear about this and then there was a good Q&A session.

Next weekend, I'll be back home in Montecarlo where we'll have a benefit celebrity football match in Cecina. One side will be made up of singers from their national football side team along with Paolo Brosio and his fellow actors from the Seppie Nere theater company in Versilia vs. the Italian Nazionale Ciclisti football squad. We'll have athletes like Paolini, Brama, Zaza, Peron and Ballerini. The kick-off will come from Paolo Rossi, hero of Italy's World Cup winning side in Spain in 1982.

All the proceeds will benefit "L'Orrizzonte", which helps disabled children. Of course, you're all invited!