Petacchi to miss Tour of Qatar, but Boonen is raring to go
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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Petacchi to miss Tour of Qatar, but Boonen is raring to go

by Shane Stokes at 6:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour of Qatar
 
Three time winner heading back aiming for more success

Alessandro PetacchiSprint rivals Alessandro Petacchi and Tom Boonen both intended getting their seasons underway in the Tour of Qatar, but the Italian rider has had a setback and must now miss the race.

The 2010 Tour de France Maillot Vert is still recovering from the bronchitis which ruled him out of the recent Giro della Provincia di Reggio Calabria. He’ll bypass the February 6 – 11th event in the hope that he will have recovered in time for the Tour of Oman, which begins on February 15th and runs for six days.

“For the Tour de Qatar, we'll be forced to not rely on our top sprinter Petacchi, who would have been a sure protagonist,” said directeur sportif Fabrizio Bontempi.

Instead, the team will send sprinter Danilo Hondo, Grega Bole, Matteo Bono, Vitaliy Kondrut, Dmytro Krivtsov, Adriano Malori and Manuele Mori.

“We will be competitive in the sprints thanks to Hondo, who is in a good fit also because he has just taken part in Six Days of Berlin,” he explained. “The Tour of Oman's course will be tougher, so I think that Mori could aim to obtain good results. I would like also to focus the attention on our young guns Bole and Malori.”

There are no problems for Boonen, who is the most successful rider in the short history of the Tour of Qatar. He had knee problems last year and missed both the Tour de France and the world road race championships as a result, but is raring to go now.

“I’ve been training well,” he said, showing that he has no lingering issues. “I feel good. I can’t wait to race and see where I stand with respect to the competition.”

Three-time race winner Boonen will make his season debut alongside fellow sprinters Gert Steegmans and Francesco Chicchi, who impressed greatly in landing two stages in 2010, as well as Marco Bandiera, Nikolas Maes, Frederique Robert, Andreas Stauff and Kevin Van Impe.

Given its successful history in the race, it’s no surprise that the team is setting its sights high again. “The Tour of Qatar is an important race in which we’ve always done well,” explained directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters prior to their departure today. “The team’s goal is to win at least one stage. This race is the start of an important cycle for us, which will culminate with the Tour of Oman on February 20th, and which will be useful for Belgian cycling’s opening weekend at the end of February with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne Brussels Kurrne, plus the races in the beginning of March.”

He said that Boonen, Chicchi, Maes, Stauff, Steegmans and Van Impe will also go on to the Tour of Oman, with Marc De Maar and Dries Devenyns stepping in for Bandiera and Robert in the second race. He said that the tougher route there would suit them better.

Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil) won last year’s Tour of Qatar after infiltrating into a successful breakaway which gained a lot of time. Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) won the Tour of Oman, profiting after Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) lost the lead due to an miss-timed call of nature.

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