Ace cyclist set for IRC debut

Ace cyclist set for IRC debutFrom IRC media [ 16/04/2009 ].
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Retired cyclist Paolo Bettini will make his Intercontinental Rally Challenge debut when he contests the Ypres Rally in Belgium from June 18-20.

Bettini, a long-term rally fan, has contested a handful of events in his native Italy in the past.

He has linked up with fellow cyclist Franco Ballarin for an attack on the asphalt-based Ypres Rally in Belgium driving an Abarth Grande Punto. Ballarin will co-drive.

They chose the Ypres Rally because of its location to the Flanders region of Belgium, where they tackled several major cycling races in the past.

Bettini, 34, won several major titles in cycling, including at Olympic and world championship-level. He retired from competing in 2008 following a series of injuries.

Despite having some experience of rallying, Bettini will face a major challenge to adapt to the rigours of driving on the tight and twisty Belgian roads. However, there is a strong precedent for drivers switching from two wheels to four on the IRC: the reining IRC champion Nicolas Vouilloz is a former 10-time downhill mountain bike champion.