Petacchi the leader for Milan-Sanremo
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Petacchi the leader for Milan-Sanremo

by Neil Browne at 5:57 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Milan-Sanremo
 

Alessandro PetacchiItalian Alessandro Petacchi will be the leader for the Lampre – Farnese Vini squad for this Saturday's Milan-Sanremo. Ale-Jet last won the race in 2005 riding for team Fassa Bortolo, and since that time has been second (2006), eighth (2007) and was fifth last year.

This year so far has been a series of ups and downs for the Italian sprinter. At the start of the season he won two stages of the Giro della Provincia Calabria, took a victory at the GP Costa Etrusca as well as a stage of the Giro di Sardegna. However a bout of gastroenteritis sidelined him for the Trofeo Laigueglia.

He returned to the peloton at the Giro di Sardegna (Tour of Sardinia), and after being sick, showed that his form had returned with victory in stage three. However the following day in stage four, with less than 150 meters remaining in the stage, he was brought down by a spectator crowding the road. Fortunately he sustained only minor injuries, and managed to finished second the following day.

With his move to the Lampre-Farnese Vini team, Petacchi was guaranteed a dedicated leadout so the Tuscan could ride out his last years as a professional in the best possible situation.  The team picked up German sprinter Danilo Hondo, who the team hopes will be one of the keys to dethroning riving sprinter Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia).  Hondo has already taken a victory this season while taking over duties for a sick Petacchi, so the duo should be a potent combination.

Earlier this month the 36-year-old sprinter crashed again, this time while training, and cut open his chin. He was also treated for injuries to his leg, ankle and groin. At the time his scheduled participation in Tirreno-Adriatico, a key step in his lead up to La Primavera, was at risk.

Fortunately Ale-Jet was able to shake off his injuries and contest the "Race of the Two Seas", taking second place in the bunch gallops on stages three and seven.

Giuseppe Saronni, Lampre-Farnese Vini's general manager stressed the importance of Saturday's event, and outlined the Italian squad's strategy. "Milano-Sanremo is the main race for our team, and with Petacchi, we will battle for the victory. The team will support Petacchi and we will try to set him up in position for the sprint perfectly.”

However, Saronni has another plan if there is a late attack on the Poggio, the last and often decisive climb just 10.7 kilometers before the finish in Sanremo.

“Cunego's presence will be important too, because he could be the team's joker in case of attacks by the top riders before the sprint.

“The race conditions of Milano-Sanremo are always very difficult to analyze because the weather changes and the possible attacks before the sprint. I think that our riders will be ready to face every situation: Mori and Gavazzi are lively, Lorenzetto has the stamina and power, Da Dalto, Hondo and Bernucci work well together with Petacchi,” continues Saronni.

Milan-Sanremo is one of the team's most important goals for the year. La Primavera is only second in prestige to the Giro d' Italia for Italians.

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