Lampre lists team goals, gives Petacchi green light to start Vuelta
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Friday, August 27, 2010

Lampre lists team goals, gives Petacchi green light to start Vuelta

by Shane Stokes at 5:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España, World Championships
 
Italian sprinter to learn next week if anti-doping case will intensify

Alessandro PetacchiAlthough the rider is still under investigation, the Lampre-Farnese Vini team has decided to back Alessandro Petacchi’s participation in the Vuelta a España and has named him for the final squad. He will join Grega Bole, Angelo Furlan, Danilo Hondo, Marco Marzano, Andrey Kashechkin, Manuele Mori, Daniele Pietropolli, Daniele Righi in the Grand Tour, which begins tomorrow.

Directeur sportif Maurizio Piovani expects that the Tour de France Maillot Vert will be one of three riders from the team who can win sprint stages, and said that the team will perform aggressively in Spain. “The Vuelta a España will be good for us, in that we'll be able to battle for the stage victories, our target in the Spanish race,” he stated.

“In order to hit these targets, we'll rely on riders that allow us to be competitive in every kind of stage: Petacchi, Furlan and Hondo are sprinters that will battle in every sprint; Bole has already shown during the season that he's very competitive in the complicated arrivals; Mori and Pietropolli are ones of the strongest cyclists of our team in this period and they'll try to join the breakaways and to be present in the toughest finishes.

“In the mountain stages our captain will be Marzano, having been amazing in the August races. Kashechkin will be free to use his quality to try things, while Righi will give to the team the usual experience.”

Kascheckin is returning to the race for the first time since finishing third overall in 2006. He won a stage and helped then-Astana team-mate Alexandre Vinokourov to win the race, but both were banned the following season for homologous blood transfusions. In June it was reported that he was in negotiations with the Lampre-Farnese Vini squad and he subsequently signed a contract with the team. He will aim to show he is back in form over the next three weeks.

Cloud over Petacchi:

Despite the endorsement of being selected, the team’s top-name rider is under pressure as a result of the investigation. Petacchi was questioned by CONI’s assistant prosecutor Tammaro Maiello for two and a half hours on Tuesday, in relation to suspicions that he may have used the blood booster perfluorocarbon (PFC) and human albumin. He denied the charges and said that he had done nothing incorrect.

His team-mate Lorenzo Bernucci was also questioned and, according to La Gazetta dello Sport, confessed. As a result of that confession, CONI’s prosecutors grilled Lampre's sports director, Fabrizio Bontempi, and masseur, Paolo Chiesa yesterday in Rome.

CONI is expected to make a decision next Tuesday, four days after the start of the race. Depending on that outcome, Petacchi will either be free to continue competing, or else will be suspended by his team. In the meantime, he’ll keep his head down and try to clock up stage wins.

The team has laid out its position on the matter. “Questioned by the Antidoping Public Prosecutor of Coni (Italian Olympic Committee), Alessandro Petacchi defined his position for the charges imputed,” said the team in a statement.

“After having taken note of the information communicated by the cyclist, Lampre-Farnese Vini added Petacchi in the team for Vuelta a Espana.”

It said that it would take immediate action if it is shown that he has broken anti-doping rules. “In the case of referral of Petacchi by the appropriate body, Lampre-Farnese Vini will take the necessary disciplinary actions provided by the team internal regulations,” it stated.

Last month, Petacchi won the Maillot Vert in the Tour de France and hopes to carry that sort of form in the Vuelta. One of his main aims in riding the race will be to prepare for the world road race championships in Geelong on October 3rd; although a sprint there isn’t guaranteed, some feel that it could come down to a big gallop.

Providing he isn’t suspended by CONI, Petacchi is expected to be one of the leaders of the Squadra Azzurri in Australia.
 

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