Petacchi confident

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) will be aiming for another jewel in his sprint crown when he...

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."

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