Petacchi set to take up leadout role for Cavendish within weeks
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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Petacchi set to take up leadout role for Cavendish within weeks

by Shane Stokes at 4:22 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Italian will sign with Omega Pharma Quick Step, team says it has verbal agreement with Rigoberto Uran

Alessandro PetacchiLess than three months after he retired from the sport, Alessandro Petacchi has been confirmed as returning to professional cycling on August 1st, with a previously-blocked deal with the Omega Pharma Quick Step team now able to proceed.

On April 23rd Petacchi stunned when he announced his intention to end his Lampre Merida contract and leave the sport. It soon became clear that the story wasn’t complete, with reports emerging that he wished to move to the Omega Pharma Quick Step team rather than hanging up his wheels.

Previously one of the top sprinters in the sport, the move would have seen him act as a leadout man for Mark Cavendish.

However the UCI blocked the transfer, pointing out that it wasn’t permitted under the rules. That appeared to prevent his move, but with the official transfer season beginning on August 1st, it appears that Omega Pharma Quick Step will now be able to bring him on board.

The team manager Patrick Lefevere confirmed the news to Sporza yesterday, saying that Petacchi would come on board after that date and would remain with the team until 2014. “For 14 months,” he said, “and with Rigoberto Uran I have a verbal agreement. In early August I will fly to Italy for the signatures.”

Providing the latter deal goes through, Uran, who finished second this year in the Giro d’Italia and was also runner-up in the Olympic road race last summer, will move from Team Sky and begin with the team in 2014. He had previously been rumoured to being in talks with the Belgian squad.

His signature would add a new dimension to the team, which has lacked a real general classification contender. As for Petacchi’s signing, it would greatly improve Cavendish’s chances of taking more victories. He has struggled at times this season to have the perfect leadout with the squad, and wanted additions. He is also expected to have former right hand man Mark Renshaw back alongside him next season.

Cavendish has come up against strong rivals such as Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel in this year’s Tour de France, and clocked up just two stage wins thus far. While that’s no mean feat, he is a rider who has previously taken six in one edition of the Tour.

Meanwhile Omega Pharma CEO Mark Coucke confirmed to Sporza that the company was very pleased with its sponsorship of the team. He said that it paid four to five million each year to the team, in terms of backing, but that the visibility achieved represented very good value out of a total marketing budget of 120 million.


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