Former Olympic champion Paolo Bettini says Andrea Tafi would be 'stealing' a younger rider's spot in his plan to return to Roubaix.
The fellow Italian and former Mapei teammate, does not want to see Tafi at the 2019 Paris-Roubaix on April 14.
“To Andrea I say, I hope you don’t race, you need to do something else in your life at 52 years old,” Bettini told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Tafi said in October that he is looking for a team that will allow him to return and race Paris-Roubaix, which he won in 1999.
“It’s an impossible dream to return 20 years after winning? Maybe, but I want to try it,” said Tafi.
Tafi raced a 1.2 UCI-ranked event this July in Hungary. He placed 37th in the V4 Special Series Debrecen-Ibrany.
“He’s gaining media attention with this,” Bettini added in the interview Wednesday.
“It’d be better to think about leaving the place open to a younger rider. Doing it this way, he’s stealing someone’s spot.”
Tafi already put his name in the UCI anti-doping testing pool so that he will be able to race again assuming a team hires him. He wants to race the famous French cobbled monument and maybe a few races beforehand, but not the entire season.
The Tuscan is about 175lbs and still rides 11,000 to 12,000 miles each year. His last professional year was 2005 when he finished his career with 42nd in Paris-Roubaix.
He would need to sign with one of the 18 WorldTour teams with guaranteed starts in the race or one of the Professional Continental teams with likely wildcard invitations. Teams are reportedly interested, including the Dimension Data team of Mark Cavendish.
If he fails to find a team, he said that he would race the amateur event. Either way, he intends to document the entire experience on social media for an eventual documentary film.
Bettini ended his career in 2008. He collected two world championship wins and monuments Milano-Sanremo, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and the Giro di Lombardia. He said that he has no intention of making a return.
“I did a test the other day, producing a peak of 375 watts at a 166 heart rate,” 44-year-old Bettini explained.
“I’m an ambassador for different companies and I have fun riding with their clients. I ride when I want, no way am I going to go out three times a week.”
Bettini took over the Italian national team and directed it for three and a half years after Franco Ballerini died. He left to help Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso start a cycling team, but Alonso hit the brakes on the project and Bettini has yet to return to top-level cycling.