‘This team lets me grow up more and more’
Quietly, Alberto Bettiol is one of the strongest guys on our team. You’ll hear about massive pulls he takes or how much work he can do in one stage on the bus after a Giro stage. Last season, Bettiol, now just 23, came into his own. He finished top 10 at both the Canadian WorldTour races, third overall at the Tour of Poland and second at the Bretagne Classic, GP Plouay. We caught up with Alberto at the beginning of the season to look back and forward.
Q: At the end of last season, Charly Wegelius (head director) said one of the things he was most proud of was your progression. He said that you were a project that has been building slowly and now in 2016 there was big progress. When you hear that, how does that make you feel?
Alberto: It makes me proud, hearing Charly’s words, because I’m still the young guy and up to last season, I didn’t do enough. But this team lets me grow up more and more. I’m more confident in myself, and Charly and the team are more confident in me. We’ll see what’s going to happen, but I’m happy for this season. I have a little bit of regret about some races in 2016, but I have to say thank you to the team for the opportunities.
In 2016, what were you most proud of?
I’m proud of being in the front of one of the biggest races in the world. And also when I realized that people were impressed, like Ramūnas Navardauskas, and other guys who have done a lot more than me, they helped me, taking me in front of the final of races to let me sprint. I am very proud of that.
For 2017, what’s your biggest racing hope?
My big hope is to win a race, and winning a race means to win a very good race because we race a big calendar this year. So I’m working on it, and if I could choose a race to win, I would say an Italian one because I come from Italy. I also love the Amstel Gold Race. I finished in the first group last year…
Do you remember your first race?
Yeah, I was six. So G1, using the Italian term. Six years old and I finished third, 10k from my house. I remember it as yesterday.
Was there ever a time between then and now that you questioned if this was what you were going to do?
Yeah. I gave it a lot of consideration, because three years ago was not actually job for me. I was studying. But every time I wanted to stop racing and make a change, I won a race. In 2009 I was studying in Florence, then I won one of the biggest stage races. Then in 2011, in Munich, I won another. So I said maybe it’s better to try to see where racing brings me. Then in ’13, after one year as under-23, I started university because I didn’t know about racing. But in the next year, I made it as a pro. Every time I considered to studying to do a real job, I won something or I became a pro, so… I’m here.
Bettiol will race at Strade Bianche this weekend.