By Jean-François Quénet in Portimão
Most of the riders fly home quickly after a stage race - Philippe Gilbert had left Portimão already so his team-mate Carlos Da Cruz collected the jersey of the combined classification - but Alessandro Petacchi went for a 900-kilometer bus tour across Spain to the Vuelta Valenciana after winning the Tour of Algarve in the extreme south of Portugal. The Spanish race is set to begin on Tuesday.
He noticed that the calendar being slightly different this year, his win in the Tour of Algarve occurred at exactly the same time away from Milan-Sanremo as his overall win in the Vuelta Valenciana two years when he made his dream come true on the Via Roma of Sanremo.
"I'll have to recover from all of these races after starting in Qatar but it should be all right, Petacchi explained. I'm not only a sprinter and I'm happy to have won here on a demanding course. It means I have worked really well during the winter. I had to because I couldn't be satisfied with my season last year after the crash in the Tour of Italy."
His knee is fine now but he's still afraid of crashing again. Sprinting is a dangerous exercise. "I've really enjoyed the race in Algarve and I'd be happy to come back but I'd advise the finishes to be organized better. Every of them were too dangerous."
At the same time he was winning his third stage in Portugal, his old rival Filippo Pozzato was doing the same in France at the Tour of Haut-Var. The past two winners of Milan-Sanremo seem to be both on the right ramp again. "The Haut-Var is a difficult race, Petacchi commented. It means he is in a great shape and for sure he'll be a client not to underestimate for Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-Sanremo. He must have prepared these races at 100%."
Plans are on their way. "It's a bit early though to figure out what Milan-Sanremo will be like this year, Petacchi continued. The favorites will be divided in two: those who will attack on the Poggio, like Pozzato, Rebellin and Bettini, and those who will wait for the sprint, Freire, Boonen, McEwen But we don't know yet who is in which condition exactly."
He doesn't make a mystery of his: "I have the same sensations as when I won the Vuelta Valenciana just before winning Milan-Sanremo two years ago. In the Tour of Qatar I was struggling a bit but now I know myself very well. I'm not too far from my weight two years, between 73 and 73.5kg. I'm convinced I've made the right choice for my preparation to Sanremo."