Paolo Bettini 2008

Paolo Bettini is riding his last ever race as a professional at the Milan Six-Day but could be forced to retire on the very first day of racing after hitting his head in a high-speed crash.

Bettini was going for the final sprint in the Madison event on the 166-metre track when he hit Yaroslav Popovych who had tangled with Luke Roberts and slid down the track. Bettini landed heavily on the inside of the track and banged his head on the barriers. His helmet smashed into two and Bettini lay on the ground for several minutes before a neck brace was applied and he was taken to hospital.

The 34 year-old Italian could not remember anything about the accident and doctors were worried he may be suffering from concussion.


Paolo Bettini eventually left hospital on Wednesday night wearing a neck brace and with a thick head. However he hopes to be back on the Milan track on Thursday so that he can end his professional career on his bike instead of on a stretcher.

Under Six-Day rules, Bettini can miss a day of racing and still continue and that is what the 34 year-old Italian plans to do. He will sit out today?s action on the 166-metre track but will get back on his bike if he is feeling better on Thursday.

?I?m full of bruises but if I can recover in time I want to race until Sunday. If not, that?ll be it, but whatever happens, I won?t have any regrets,? Bettini told Gazzetta dello Sport.

?It was a nasty crash because I landed on my head. In a way I?m lucky to be here to talk about it. To be honest I don?t remember anything about the crash. The blow was so strong it has even cancelled my memories of the lap before I crashed.?

Australia?s Luke Roberts also crashed heavily with Bettini after Yaroslav Popovych slid down the track into the path of the two riders as they went for a sprint at 50km/h. The former CSC pro was behind Bettini and landed on his face. He was also taken to hospital and fainted later in the evening but was not as badly injured as Bettini.


Monday's International news round-up

2009 Tour de France route announced

Monday's international news round-up - includes list of 2009 Giro stages

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Founded in 1891, Cycling Weekly and its team of expert journalists brings cyclists in-depth reviews, extensive coverage of both professional and domestic racing, as well as fitness advice and 'brew a cuppa and put your feet up' features. Cycling Weekly serves its audience across a range of platforms, from good old-fashioned print to online journalism, and video.