Tour de Langkawi Cycling News for February 9, 2006
Edited by Anthony Tan
Bellotti a climber in the making
By Jean-François Quénet in Johor Bahru
Credit Agricole's Francesco Bellotti
Photo ©: Jean-François Quénet
What's the best way for an average Italian rider to make sure he'll take
part in the best races in his country? Well, joining a French team can
speed up the process, because five of them are in the ProTour and very
few of their landmark members would make the Giro a priority.
Francesco Bellotti, 26, hailing from Pescantina near Verona, may not
have a win in the books yet, however he'll be leading the Crédit Agricole
squad for the Tour of Italy this year after showing his GC abilities at
the Le Tour de Langkawi. "Also in the young categories, I never won many
races, he said. All of what I've done, it's been with a lot of suffering
but I've had the satisfaction of reaching a few goals and every year I
improve, that's very important for me."
He's thankful to Davide Boifava, who gave him a first opportunity to
turn professional with Mercatone Uno in 2003 and he moved from Barloworld
to Crédit Agricole last year, following the path of his good friend Pietro
Caucchioli who isn't scheduled for the Giro this year. Christophe Moreau's
departure to AG2R has given Caucchioli the team leadership at the Tour
de France, and consequently, some more responsibilities to Bellotti at
the Tour of Italy.
"I can't say I'll be the team leader but I'll have the freedom to attack
and Saul Raisin and myself will be the climbers, Bellotti explained. Crédit
Agricole is a nice team where I feel good. It might sound absurd but the
truth is that there wouldn't be so much space for me in an Italian team
where the concurrence would be bigger. This setup has an ideal dimension
for me. Here I'm considered, I feel a lot of confidence and I can prepare
myself with no pressure."
Currently lying third
overall with three days to go, he has the potential to go one better
because compared to his compatriot Gabriele Missaglia, he's a better rider
against the clock. "I wasn't expecting such a good result," he said.
"Sometimes you work a lot for goals that you don't reach and now, I didn't
even target a result and I'm close to getting it. The time I lost on David
George, it happened the day we played for Raisin's stage win, that's where
I lost the two minutes that are now impossible to get back. I'm more than
happy with my trip to Malaysia. It's always good to begin a season with
something nice. But maybe my form has come too quickly, so I'll take it
easy when I'll get back to Italy next week."
Despite knee problems that ruined the early part of his 2005 season,
Bellotti did well in the mountains of the Giro and finished 16th in the
Tour de Suisse, then eighth in the Italian road championships. It's true
that he improves every year - now he's showing joined Crédit Agricole
not just as a companion for Caucchioli.
Bates lean and mean - but still a little green
By Anthony Tan in Tampin
Young Aussie Gene Bates
Photo ©: Shane Goss
A recurring bout of stomach troubles didn't stop Gene Bates from riding
an exceptional race on the sixth
stage of the Le Tour de Langkawi. "I woke up this morning and was
on a mission to prove that I'm not just here to play around," he said
on the day.
After 19 kilometres, the Aussie neo-pro attacked with three others, and
when team-mate Massimo Iannetti also made the junction eight k's later,
LPR became the best-represented team in the day's winning move of eight
riders. "Yesterday, that was the plan, to save my legs a little bit,"
Bates said of his 'easy' ride up Genting the day before. "I ended up getting
that bad stomach bug again, so that sort of drained me overnight - but
I just dug deep.
At 10 kilometres to go and a roaring peloton breathing down their necks,
the 24 year-old had two things to worry about: being caught and the seven
other riders in the break, save for Iannetti. However, so long as the
break stayed away, the diminutive rider's fast finish put him in with
"With about a k and a half to go the Japanese rider hit out and nobody
chased him. I thought, 'Gosh, that's the race gone' - then the AG2R guy
went after him and attacked and I said to msyelf, 'Well, there's second
gone'. But then we just gathered speed and I think the Bouygues Telecom
guy realised he wasn't going to win so he lead it out... I was coming
at him that fast that I thought I could roll him at the line, but I think
he beat me by a bike length.
"We did everything we could - Massimo [Ianetti] rode his heart out for
me and just to get beaten on the line like that is frustrating," he said,
looking both drained and disappointed.
Asked if he was over the worst of his bathroom dilemmas that have plagued
him since the third stage to the Cameron Highlands, he replied with a
laugh: "Yeah, well, I think I'm over it and then it will hit me again,
so no more coffees in the morning!"
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)