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28th Olympic Games - August 14-28, 2004

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California Dreamin' - The Paolo Bettini Diary 2004

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. For the 2004 Olympic Games, Bettini is back on Cyclingnews with his exclusive English-language diary.

Athens, Greece, August 11, 2004

Athens is right around the corner

Hi everybody at Cyclingnews,

Paolo Bettini (Team Italia)
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So now I'm officially on the Olympic Program - it's all happening this week! On Monday morning, my Quick.Step-Davitamon teammate and new Italian Olympic teammate Luca Paolini trained easily around Cecina and then in the afternoon, we flew in a helicopter from Cecina to Castelfidardo, where the Italian Olympic cycling team rode in the first race of "Due Giorni Marchigiana", the Trofeo Fred Mengoni. It's good to have Paolini on the team; he replaced Bartoli who was injured and I'm sorry for Michele, but happy to have my top teammate as his replacement.

For the first time ever, the Azzurri raced together as a team before the Olympics. It was a good idea for us and Nardello was second and Moreni third behind Cunego. I made some attacks, but when a big break went, I went easy. Pushing it at this point wouldn't make sense for Saturday's race. It was good that all five of us got to race together and to focus on Saturday's Olympic Road Race together.

At this point, the preparation in finished and all you really have to do is to maintain the level of form from the last few weeks. I feel like I'm the best Bettini of the season and that gives me a lot of morale for the big race Saturday. We've already had a meeting to talk about the race with CT Ballerini and then got our Olympic team uniforms. Wednesday morning, we took a chartered airplane from Ancona to Athens and headed to the Olympic Village. More to come.