Tour de Lankawi - Francesco Belotti
Francesco Belotti of Credit Agricole, returns to Langkawi with plans to improve
on last years second place to David George.
Nobody, they say, remembers the guy who finishes second, and Francesco
Belotti remembers how he came closest to winning his first race as a
professional when he was denied the top finish by South Africa's David George in
last year's Le Tour de Langkawi.
The 26-year old Italian dreams of making it just one step up to the top of
the podium when he starts his second campaign in the 12th edition of Le Tour de
Langkawi on February 2 to 11 with a stronger
Credit Agricole outfit that includes Hungarian national champion Laszlo Bodrogi
and top sprinter Julian Dean of New Zealand.
"I have a great memory of Malaysia from last year's race because it was my
best ever result as a professional. So, I had no hesitations in putting my hands
up when the opportunity to race in Malaysia came by again," said Bellotti,
speaking from his home in Pescantina near Verona.
Despite his near win in Malaysia last year, Bellotti isn't yet a big name in
cycling and is known as one of the numerous hard workers who love their job,
having turned professional under the wings of the legendary Italian Marco
Pantani in the Mercatone Uno team in 2003 and then joined the Barloworld outfit
in 2004, before moving into the Pro Tour ranks with Credit Agricole in 2005.
And the down-to-earth Bellotti realises his capacity.
“I wasn’t born a champion. Even in the young categories, I never won many races.
All of what I’ve done, it’s been with a lot of suffering but I’ve had the
satisfaction of reaching a few goals and every year I improve, that’s very
important for me," said Bellotti.
He wasn’t designated as Crédit Agricole’s team captain for the 2006 Le Tour
de Langkawi. The time he lost on George came from his dedication as a team
player when he favored his partner Saul Raisin to go for the stage win in the
Cameron Highlands. His deficit of two minutes was impossible to get back
considering the great condition and tactical skills of the whole South African
“Now I have the advantage of knowing the race and my only target will be to
move one place ahead on general classification at the end of the event. Le Tour
de Langkawi has become a very important race for the whole world of cycling. It
comes early in the season, but it’s crucial to begin well.
"Many times I’ve seen riders taking it easy at the beginning because of later
goals but they never found the right rhythm. We have an expression in Italian:
‘Who begins well is already half way into the opera’.
“I like racing in the heat. In Europe, it’s impossible to find this kind of
climate nowadays until May, that’s why I’m excited to go to Malaysia in
French outfit Crédit Agricole who is the world’s longest running professional
cycling set up since it’s the continuation of the prestigious Peugeot team from
the 60s, 70s and 80s and was later called Z (with Tour de France winner Greg
LeMond) and Gan (with world hour record-man Chris Boardman), has chosen an
interesting line up for the 2007 Le Tour de Langkawi.
“In fact, we have a complete team," Bellotti described. Watch out for up and
coming Frenchman Anthony Charteau and another good climber called Benoît Poilvet,
New Zealand sprinter Julian Dean and his lead out man William Bonnet, and if
there’s work to be done on the flat roads, Bodrogi, who won both the Hungarian
time trial and road championships last year, will be the man.
The Crédit Agricole Squad for Le Tour de Langkawi:
Francesco Bellotti (Ita)
Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun)
William Bonnet (Fra)
Anthony Charteau (Fra)
Julian Dean (NZ),
Benoît Poilvet (Fra).