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Bettini recovers after six-day horror crash

  • Story Highlights
  • Italy' Paolo Bettini suffers horror crash at Milan six-day cycling race
  • Two-time world champion taken to hospital after high-speed fall in farewell appearance
  • Erik Zabel wins Dortmund six-day race as he heads for retirement
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(CNN) -- Two-time world cycling champion Paolo Bettini had a miraculous escape from serious injury in his farewell appearance at a six-day indoor meeting in Milan.

Bettini had a lucky escape from serious injury in his farewell race in Italy.

Bettini was taken to hospital in a neck brace after a high-speed fall when Ukrainian rider Yaroslav Popovych crashed in front of him.

The Italian star hit Popovych and then his head slammed against the protective barrier, breaking his helmet apart.

"The fall was terrible and I have no recollection of a few crucial minutes," he told Associated Press.

Bettini, who was released from hospital late on Tuesday night, said he was anxious to make the most of his final race, but is still troubled by his injuries.

"The Six Days? I'll decide whether to continue or not this evening," he said, complaining he was still suffering from pain in his back and neck.

"But this is nothing compared to what could have happened to me," he said in a statement released through his Belgian-based Quick Step team early on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old Bettini, who won the world road race title in 2006 and 2007 as well as the road race at the 2004 Athens Olympics, announced in September that he was retiring.

Meanwhile, German veteran Erik Zabel has been faring rather better as he turns to the indoor boards for his farewell appearances.

He partnered Leif Lampater to win the Dortmund six-day event, his sixth victory in the race.

Sprint specialist Zabel, 38, has two more indoor events planned before retiring at the end of the year.

In other cycling news on Wednesday, Italian Leonardo Piepoli, one of seven riders to fail doping controls at the Tour de France, has requested to be tested further.

The Saunier Duval climber gave a positive for a new strain of banned blood booster EPO called CERA and will be controlled in the coming weeks by the French anti-doping agency.

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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