Throughout his career as a champion, Paolo Bettini has been making the Sidi team proud with his sensational victories, and he continues to be a special spokesman for the Italian quality that distinguishes the brand from Treviso. On a wave of nostalgia for the Milano-SanRemo Spring Super Classic, we asked him to tell us about his own personal race towards triumph in via Roma in 2003.
During my extensive career, I’ve done whatever I could to give it my all when it comes to delivering results and excitement for myself, my team, my family and all the fans of this fantastic sport that is cycling. I hope I’ve managed to do so. We are in the period of the Milano-Sanremo and if I had to consider what this race means to me, I would say it’s three hundred grueling kilometers in the build-up to that perfect moment at the entrance to via Roma.
It’s not easy to describe this Classic. If we just consider the altimetric profile, it might appear to be quite a simple race, but this is where it fools you: It could be a sprinter who wins, or maybe one of the Grand Tour pros, perhaps a Grand Classic rider, or why not…even an outsider. It’s exactly this serendipitous mix of unknowns that makes this race so unique.
If I think back to that day, the best part was when we hit via Roma, with Paolini going all out to pull me into the sprint. He really played a fundamental part in this victory, but not only in the last two-hundred meters, After the attack between Cipressa and Poggio, I never thought I would have made it. And he was the one who stuck by my side in the hardest mental moment and during the attack. Once we came off the back of the climb he kept me on his wheel, spurring me on and convincing me that I could still go on to claim that victory. It’s super important to make it to the finish line in a lucid state and you need to have some strength left to make it to that crucial point. In this case, having Luca by my side was essential.
These times we’re living in are very complicated, and it’s much like that moment in which you lose hope of being able to win. But we must not give in to this conviction: just like that day on the Poggio, it will require enormous effort to overcome the most critical phase and remain united, even at a distance, supporting each other and being team players, all of us. The team is everything.