Petacchi impresses himself, but hails winner Freire
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Petacchi impresses himself, but hails winner Freire

by Samuel Morrison at 7:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Milan-Sanremo

Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) failed to match his 2005 win yesterday at Milano-Sanremo, but he came away impressed, impressed with his form and with the power of winner Oscar Freire (Rabobank).

"A 'grande campione' won today," Petacchi told La Gazzetta dello sport. "I said at Tirreno-Adriatico that Freire was my favourite. He kept hidden the whole time, the opposite of Tom Boonen."

Petacchi had the help of all seven Lampre team-mates, including Damiano Cunego, to ensure he would arrive for the sprint. He did. He positioned himself first behind Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and then Tom Boonen (Quick Step), but ahead Freire overpowered Daniele Bennati (Liquigas-Doimo) for the win. Boonen took second post and Petacchi third, his third podium finish in Sanremo.

"I raced a great Sanremo, I think I was the strongest today than any other Sanremo," Petacchi continued. "I was always following wheels, and it was a hard race under the rain. On the Cipressa and the Poggio I was truly going strong. I was amazed with myself on the Cipressa and Poggio."

Petacchi was the fourth rider to top the Poggio climb, the last climb of the 298-kilometre race, leaving 6.2 kilometres to the finish line.

"The descent of the Cipressa is always the hardest, but in general all the descents because you risk losing what you gained on the climb."

After the Poggio, Petacchi kept protected despite an attack from Filippo Pozzato (Katusha). Thomas Löfkvist (Sky) bought teammate Flecha to Boonen's wheel, but Petacchi took it over in the final 500 metres.

"The sprint happened in a strange way... In the last curve, I was behind Flecha. He had passed me, but then lost a few metres and I had to recover from it. After Bennati, I was in the wind very early and Freire was going twice as fast.

"Anyway, I am very happy because after all that happened I arrived third, it was truly impressive."

Petacchi comes from La Spezia, just down the Ligurian coast from Sanremo. He first raced Sanremo in 2002 and two years later, he came close to winning it.

"The 2004 Sanremo will remain in my head for ever. It was my first time to contest the sprint, and I lost. But by losing it I understood that one day I would be able to go on and win it. Then, one year later, 'Ferron' [Giancarlo Ferretti] took my jacket from the car on the Cipressa and said, 'Today, you will win.'

"If Sanremo was a film it would be a thriller, one which you have no idea what will happen until the last scene."


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