Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bettini Wins Consecutive World Championships

Paolo Bettini of Italy prevailed in Stuttgart, Germany, after a week of polemics that threatened his participation. The 33 year-old from Marina di Bibbona formed part of a five-man group with Frank Schleck (Luxembourg), Cadel Evans (Australia), Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia) and home rider Stefan Schumacher. It stayed clear following the advantage gained over the Birkenkopf at 9.2 kilometres remaining. Bettini passed Kolobnev as he led out the sprint, while Schumacher kept powering for third over Schleck and Evans.

"It was a difficult week. I was accused [of certain things]," said an emotional Bettini at the finish. "This is a present for all the people. It was not an easy victory. Grazie a tutti!"

He complimented his nine-man squadra azzurra, "It was a difficult circuit. You can only win with a great team. We had a team that could make the difference." Bettini became the fifth rider to archive the back-to-back Worlds win. His compatriot Gianni Bugno was last rider to double (1991 and 1992); the four other riders that achieved back-to-back championship wins were Belgians Georges Ronsse (1928/1929), Rik Van Steenbergen (1956/1957), and Rik Van Looy (1960/1961). Most of the riders on this year's national team are from the Veneto region: Cunego and Rebellin from Verona province, Pozzato from Vicenza province, Tosatto, Ballan, and Bruseghin from the province of Treviso, and Bertolini from Trento province in the neighboring Trentino region.

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