Thursday, September 6, 2007
Can Bettini Double at the Worlds?
Can Bettini repeat? Il Grillo will be a marked man at the world's. A savy rider from a weaker team could win by following his wheel and getting lucky, but the chances of back to back championships are pretty slim. 91/92 Gianni Bugno (of the ill Gatorade team kit!) did it and then you have to go back to 60/61 and Rick Van Looy. Bettini has definitely suffered from the curse of the rainbow jersey this year. He has scored only 2 victories! But he got one this week and has been at the front during the hard stages of the Vuelta's first week.
The Stuttgart course suits him and his team is arguably one of the strongest in the field. That might be as much a curse as a gift, as he will have serious competition from within his own team.
The course should be very selective and I don't have a list in front of me, but without Valverde there isn't another clear favorite. Maybe one of the Schleck brothers if they are on form. Perhaps Freire can handle the climbing and be ready to strike? Schumacher? Hard to say.