Italian teams primed for home season debut in Costa degli Etruschi
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Italian teams primed for home season debut in Costa degli Etruschi

by Ben Atkins at 8:06 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
Lampre-ISD, Liquigas-Cannondale, and Acqua & Sapone sending strong squads Donoratico; Viviani confident; Petacchi chasing win number six

Alessandro PetacchiThe Italian season gets under way on Saturday with the 17th edition of the GP Costa degli Etruschi, in Donoratico, on the Tuscan coast of Italy. The 194.6km course, which takes in some hills in the Tuscan hinterland before finishing with five laps of a gently rolling finishing circuit, is almost certain to end in a sprint, and could see a battle between last year’s winner Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) and five-time victor Alessandro Petacchi.

2011 winner Viviani has already posted his first victory of the year, taking the sixth stage of last week’s Tour de San Luis in Argentina. Despite, not being one of the big sprinting names, the track specialist is confident ahead of his Etruscan defence.

"The challenges of the great sprinters do not scare me, but motivate me,” he said. “I’m arriving at this appointment with some good racing and a lot of serenity. The Tour de San Luis has made me very positive. I have been able to work on challenging courses in the race and although I knew the limits of my condition, I managed to take a victory; I couldn’t ask for better debut.

“Over the last two days I've been training on the track and my form has got even better,” he continued. “The groundwork has been done and is there for all to see, and now we need to work on the gloss. The GP Costa degli Etruschi marks a new step in this direction but I’m certainly not riding it for training; I’m going there to be a protagonist, knowing that an opponent like Petacchi will not be easy to beat.

“However,” he added, “I have learned to get on and manage both the expectations and the responsibility; now all I have to do is to test my legs on the road."

Petacchi has actually crossed the line in first place six times, but he lost his 2008 victory after the International Cycling Union (UCI) retrospectively disqualified him after his over-use of Salbutamol in the 2007 Giro d’Italia.

Regardless of this, the Ale-Jet is by far the most successful rider in the race’s sixteen editions to date, and, after some promising results in last month’s Santos Tour Down Under, he is ready to aim for a sixth victory.

alessandro petacchi"My relationship with the GP Costa degli Etruschi is very good, particularly because of the victories I have had,” Petacchi explained. “The cold is a threat for the health, but my aim is to be competitive in the sprint that, probably, will end the race. I already performed good sprints in Australia with the support of some of my teammates that will be with me on Saturday, while [Matteo] Bono, [Vitaliy] Buts, [Manuele] Mori and [Daniele] Righi will be making their season debut; although I'm sure that they will all be able to make a solid reliable contribution.

“The most motivated of all, finally, is Ulyssi, the local hero,” he added.

Petacchi took a second and a third place in Australia, behind an on-form André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), but he knows that he must be careful as cold weather spreads across Europe.

“It would be nice to be able to lay down the first win of the season,” he said, “but at the same time I know I must be very careful not to expose myself to the cold to avoid an illness that could affect the first part of the year.”

The Acqua & Sapone team will be starting the race with a lot to prove after being denied an invitation to the Giro d’Italia. Danilo Napolitano will be making his season debut in the Abruzzo team’s new all-white strip; with the two-time third-place finisher looking to improve on last year’s ninth place.

The race’s flat profile does not suit the team’s captain Stefano Garzelli, who will be getting his own season under way at the Tour Méditerranéen next week.

The GP Costa degli Etruschi will start in the coastal town of San Vincenzo – also the starting point of next month’s Tirreno-Adriatico – at 10:45am, and finish in Donoratico – where Tirreno’s first stage will also finish – some five hours later.

The 2012 edition will be the fourth to be raced in memory of Sauro Bettini, brother of Italian national coach and two-time World champion Paolo, who tragically died shortly after the local rider took the first of his rainbow jerseys.

Lampre-ISD team for GP Costa degli Etruschi
Alessandro Petacchi, Matteo Bono, Vitaliy Buts, Davide Cimolai, Massimo Graziato, Danilo Hondo, Manuele Mori, Daniele Righi, Diego Ulissi and Davide Viganò.

Liquigas-Cannondale team for GP Costa degli Etruschi
Elia Viviani, Tiziano Dall’Antonia, Stefano Agostini, Federico Canuti, Kristijan Koren, Daniele Ratto, Moreno Moser, Dominik Nerz, Maciej Paterski and Juraj Sagan.

Acqua & Sapone team for GP Costa degli Etruschi
Danilo Napolitano, Francesco Ginanni, Andrea Masciarelli, Paolo Ciavatta, Claudio Corioni, Francesco Di Paolo, Alessandro Donati, Vladimir Miholjevic and Francesco Reda


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