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Alberto Bettiol, the Italian who blasted to victory in the Tour of Flanders last year, cannot wait to get back to racing. After all the 2020 season was put on hold by the coronavirus crisis only weeks before he was to set to defend his title in the Flemish monument. And the 26-year-old was eager to prove that 2019 was no fluke.
Bettiol is still working out his racing calendar in what promises to be an action-packed end of the season.
“The team has scheduled only [through] August, where I will do Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo. I would like to be at the Giro, but in October there are also the classics,” he told the Italian site tuttobiciweb.it. “Now that there is a calendar, I can wake up thinking that August 1st will start again. To train properly you must have a goal.”
Bettiol, who lives in Switzerland and trains regularly with countryman Vincenzo Nibali, admits there are still many unknowns in the 2020 calendar. “It will be strange to immediately face a great classic with two races in the legs. I expect surprises, because there are those who were always able to train outdoors and those who have had to do it on the rollers.”
Bettiol admits that winning Flanders added a lot of pressure. “Having scored my first victory in the most beautiful and toughest race changed my status: I struggled to manage daily life, requests and expectations increased. The legs were there, but my head was not free. In 2020 my main goal is to remain calm, to race without the pressure of always having to win.”
But while Bettiol’s first major victory came relatively late, he is confident that his career is just beginning. “Cycling has changed. Now at the age of twenty, you win the Tour like Bernal or you immediately make a big splash like Evenepoel. I consider myself out of the norm, but I am relatively fresh for my age. I didn’t over race in the youth categories. I can still improve a lot.”
But while Bettiol dreams of confirming the immense expectations placed on him after victory in Flanders, he is firstly looking forward to simply racing again. “That’s what counts after all!”