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Alberto Bettiol made a solo move. Photo: Peter De...

Bettiol buys €500 car wheels with Flanders winnings

For Bettiol, the real prize of his monument win is the confidence that he can compete with the best.

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Italian Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First) is not letting his Tour of Flanders victory go to his head, revealing that after his surprise victory he awarded himself only a new set of wheels for his car that cost €500.

The Italian, whose first win was in Flanders on April 7, is keeping his feet on the ground as he enters his second season with EF Education First.

“My dream? It’s just to continue like this,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“To win, to remain at a high level. Just to create emotions, which makes me proud.”

Bettiol, 26, rode away solo on the Oude Kwaremont cobbled climb. While the favorites behind began to watch each other, he gained ground. Over the top of the Paterberg, he had enough time and victory became possible. In Oudenaarde, he sealed it: his first professional win, and one of the five monuments in cycling.

When he returned home to Tuscany, he gave himself a gift. It was not an expensive watch or a German sports car, instead, a set of wheels that he bought for his car.

“The money has an effect, but you shouldn’t think about it. If you stop and watch how much you earn, maybe you don’t even go out and ride,” he continued.

“I want to keep my mind free like it was leading to that victory, because you win with your head. And then the fact that you earn with the contracts, not with the race winnings that are really low.

“The Flanders winner takes home only 20,000 euro. And it’s even worse for the women, Marta Bastianelli won only €1265. An injustice because she struggled like me, if not more, and women’s cycling is now an established reality.

“My gift to myself? I changed my car’s rims: 500 euro.”

It is unclear how much Bettiol earns, but without bonuses, he may have signed for around €500,000 ahead of the 2019 season. His two-year contract expires at the end of 2020.

However, the value for him is that now in his head he knows that he is capable to fight in the Classics alongside stars like Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) or Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal).

“For me, it’s the awareness. Now I know I can fight on par with the best in the world,” he said.

“And with what win, I repaid – even if not entirely – my family, the team and the people who have always been close to me.”

A similar uncorking saw Van Avermaet enter another dimension in his career. Prior to 2015, he had been the nearly-man coming close on several occasions. Then everything began to change with his Tour de France stage win ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in Rodez.

“My goal for 2020,” he added,” is just to continue to find that consistency that up until now, I’ve lacked.”