Bettini Title Caps Exciting Weekend

Oct 1 2007

You think that me finally leaving my job makes blogging easier? Then you’ve clearly never festered in a cubicle as boring as mine. I was away in Vermont all weekend, keeping tabs on Stuttgart, but lacking the free time and bandwidth to post and watch. And I managed to leave my laptop behind, so I’m writing this post with this bad boy. But, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 72 hours, Bettini became the first rider to defend the Arc en Ciel since Gianni Bugno, back in ’92.

It’s interesting to note that, for years, Bettini couldn’t buy a break at Worlds. Granted, the surprise emergence of Oscar Freire didn’t help, and the ’00 and ’02 courses (and Mario Cipollini) kept Bettini from being a real threat. But in ’03, “where-are-they-now” candidate Igor Astarloa hit Bettini with the perfect attack, in ’04, il grillo drilled a car door with his knee, and in ’05, he couldn’t quite make it stick against a fantastic Belgian squad.

Then Operacion Puerto broke in 2006. And Bettini hasn’t lost a World Championship since. Now, I can’t say that cutting off – what was the estimate, 57 names? – from their supply of extra RBC’s is what made that extra difference for the little Italian. But the fact that he’s been the only World Champ since the sport starting making sweeping (and, IMHO, often excessive) dope reforms makes targeting him with dope charges seem kinda silly, doesn’t it? At any rate, those who take aim at Bettini should know that he’s got a history of firing back – both symbolically and with his lawyers.

Of course, cycling stateman Erik Zabel doesn’t need lawyers to swtich teams next season, a year ahead of contract. Suspicion seems to be he’ll head to T-Mobile (despite the fact he is not included on their ’08 roster) to mentor youngsters Gerard Ciolek and Mark Cavendish – Ole’ Flat Top might want to consider starting on color coordination with the latter. Zabel, who’s podiumed at Worlds a heartbreaking number of times, might also have some advice for runner-up Alexandr Kolobnev; sure, it’s a good result, but as Zbigniew Spurch can tell you, a Worlds podium can be a kiss of death.

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