Petacchi: "Boonen was strongest"

A week ago, Alessandro Petacchi appeared unbeatable. The way he took the stage victory in Paseo de...

A week ago, Alessandro Petacchi appeared unbeatable. The way he took the stage victory in Paseo de la Castellana, his fifth win in the Tour of Spain, was impressive to say the least. Petacchi didn't look flash hot at the start of the World Championships in Madrid and it was quickly understood that his chances to take the title would be slim. Paolo Bettini knew this and therefore attacked in a way which brought back images of his best race days, but it wasn't meant to be for the little Italian and a group sprint was set up for Boonen.

"It was up to me at that moment," Petacchi said after the race. "But I didn't have the legs anymore on that second to last climb." The air-conditioning in the Italian team's hotel was pointed out to be the spoil-sport for the big day.

"On Saturday night I started suffering from sinusitis," the Italian sprinter explained. "During the race it was almost impossible for me to breathe properly. On the last climb I alerted Marco Velo and told Ballerini that he had to play Bettini's card to the full. I'm only human and I'm sorry it didn't work out for Bettini. But Boonen was simply the strongest. He was the only sprinter to stay at the front on this demanding parcours. That and his palmares of the year and the intention to keep proving himself next season makes him a well-deserved champion."

Courtesy of Sabine Sunderland

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