Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) will be aiming for another jewel in his sprint crown when he lines up for Milan-San Remo on Saturday morning. The winner of 11 races already this year spoke at a press conference in his hotel on the eve of the race, and predicted that he has a good chance to win this time.
"I have trained to arrive at this race in the best possible condition and I think, that if nothing strange happens, I will be in Via Roma contesting the victory with the others," he said. "Yesterday [Thursday], I went and did the last 100 km of the parcours, doing the Cipressa twice and the Poggio once. I studied the descents well, which are just as important as the climbs in this race, and I tested out the gear ratios. I will climb in the 42 tooth small chainring instead of the 39, while I will keep the 53 big ring and use a 10 speed block from 11 to 21.
"On Thursday, when I came to the finish, I remembered 2004. The finishing straight is slightly uphill and seems to never end. I hope that this year the conclusion is different, even if it is not, however, a drama. At the end of the day, it will be the second time that I will fight for the victory, and if I lose, I will still be Alessandro Petacchi. There will be many rivals and besides the "usual" sprinters, I put an asterisk next to Valverde, who I am sure will ride an attacking race. I don't even forget Bettini, even if he has said that he will help Boonen.
"Once again, I say that this year there will be a different Petacchi at the start compared to last year, stronger. I lost weight and I have improved on the climbs, winning the Vuelta Valenciana and finishing second in Tirreno-Adriatico. All of this was "thanks" to the sprint I lost last year in Sanremo. I put it in my head that if I hadn't had those extra kilograms, I wouldn't have got to the sprint too tired. I'm here because I wanted to lose weight and, up until now, it has produced results. On the other hand, this Petacchi should be suited to more. I have always loved complete riders, like Freire, who can defend themselves a little bit everywhere.
"The responsibility? Certainty I feel it, that is normal. I felt it also at the Giro d'Italia 2004 when they made the whole squad available. Then I won nine stages. Tomorrow will be harder to start than to race, I hope to sleep well tonight."