Alessandro Petacchi has denied that he was to blame for Roberto Damiani’s departure from the Lampre-Merida squad ahead of the 2013 season. The veteran sprinter also welcomed the arrival of his friend and former teammate Michele Bartoli as coach.
Damiani joined Lampre as sport manager in time for the 2011 Giro d’Italia following the implication of a number of riders and staff in the Mantua-based doping investigation, including general manager Giuseppe Saronni. After a difficult 18 months, however, Damiani parted company with the team in November while Saronni remains in command of the team
“A lot was written about this. I even remember that when this news came out, it almost seemed according to the Gazzetta that I was the one who pushed Damiani out of the team,” Petacchi told Radio Manà Sport. “I think it was a collective decision, from the team, riders and staff. He’s a well-prepared person, but perhaps his ideas and his way of working didn’t tally with the philosophy of the team. This change has been a big revolution and we’ll see if Saronni has done well.”
Damiani’s close links with the Mapei Centre had seen Lampre avail of the facility during his tenure, albeit sparingly, but the team has since ended its collaboration with the centre. The team’s riders will now be coached by double Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Michele Bartoli. A close friend of Bartoli since their time at Fasso Bortolo, Petacchi is enthusiastic about the new venture.
“I’m very happy to work with Michele Bartoli, he’s like the brother I never had,” Petacchi said. “I’ve been following his advice in training for the last four weeks and I can say that his methods are very hard. For me, it’s a big stimulus.”
Petacchi begins his 2013 season in January at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina, explaining that the soaring temperatures at the Tour Down Under last season had not been to his liking. “It was too hot and when I came back I suffered because of the change in temperature,” he said.
Petacchi, who turns 39 on Friday, had considered leaving Lampre to serve as Mark Cavendish’s lead-out man in 2013 but he ultimately opted to stay put. He will now dovetail his sprint efforts with those of Roberto Ferrari, who arrives from Androni-Venezuela.
“Last year, I had too many physical problems and falls. I decided to continue because I felt good when it got close to the Tour, even if a crash put me out of the running,” he said. “I’m happy that Roberto Ferrari has signed for us, I know him already from when we rode at LPR. He was much younger then, but now he has grown and he rode a great Giro d’Italia.
“I hope he continues like that and confirms what he has shown. And it’s clear that we’re professionals, so whichever one of us is going better will take part in the sprints.”