The man who caused former world champion Mark Cavendish distress and pain with some erratic sprinting during last year's Giro d'Italia, Roberto Ferrari, will once again be in the mix and looking for success when the Three Days of De Panne (Driedaagse De Panne) begins in Belgium today.
Lampre-Merida management had already planned for Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Petacchi to skip the race, so they can train for Tour of Flanders.
"The change of cyclists was in our program: Pozzato and Petacchi will train in Italy ahead of the next goal at Tour of Flanders," team director Fabrizio Bontempi told tuttobiciweb.it.
The Manxman has raced against the Italian once this year, at Tirreno-Adriatico, however neither of them managed to win a sprint. Cavendish wore the race leader's jersey after taking out the team time trial with Omega Pharma-Quick-Step but the upcoming three-day race will give the next opportunity to bump shoulders.
"Roberto [Ferarri] gave his contribution to the team superbly in Coppi e Bartali, despite a bruise on his side that was caused by the crash in Milano-San Remo. He could be competitive thanks to his mix of stamina and speed," added Bontempi.
Ferrari is yet to throw his hands in celebration wearing the Lampre-Merida colours but the Stage 11 winner at the 2012 Giro d'Italia is coming off a solid block of racing that may see him in the mix during the expected bunch sprints. He will need to use all of his positioning skills to be competitive against a field warming-up for Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen.
In addition to Cavendish, who has already picked up five individual wins this year, the experienced Italian will go up against Gent-Wevelgem winner Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling), Milan-San Remo victor Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka), Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol), Leigh Howard (Orica GreenEdge), Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) and Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) to name just a few.