"Sanremo will be another story," said Alessandro Petacchi of Milram after the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. The 2005 Milano-Sanremo winner wanted to leave his mark on the Corsa dei Due Mari but was denied the chance. Yesterday, he was force out of action, when, at two kilometres to go Erki Pütsep (Bouygues Telecom) crashed directly in front of him.
"I had lost my teammates in the curve beforehand, but still I was not too far back," continued the 32 year-old to La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Then the crash of Pütsep; I did not have to put my foot down but I had to restart from almost a standstill and I found myself at the back of the group."
Ale-Jet had an abbreviated train, with only Alessandro Cortinovis, Fabio Sacchi and Marco Velo; Erik Zabel retired before stage six and Volodymyr Dyudya was out of action due to the flu. "I would have liked to win a stage," continued Petacchi, who in 2004 scored three wins in Tirreno. But this year there were not really many opportunities on offer; stage one, which Robbie McEwen swiped with shrewdness, stage two, ruled by Alexandr Arekeev's escape and Tuesday's final stage.
Petacchi has passed nearly a month since his last win (a stage in Vuelta Valenciana) but, in view of Sanremo, this Saturday, he is not worried. "It is not worth it for me to risk more than I have to, especially if I could crash. I am coming off a period where I have suffered a lot, I am still missing something in the sprint, a certain insecurity remains."
Gianluigi Stanga, Milram Team Manager, confirmed his sprinter's strength. "He is very well physically, even if he still has to do a little more work because he is coming off a season of half-service. If we lose Sanremo we will lose it in a spirit. Alessandro has all of the cards he needs to arrive in the sprint."
Last year Petacchi was there on the Via Roma for the sprint but he was foiled by Filippo Pozzato, who had escaped on the Poggio. During the last week in Tirreno the two were able to size each other up. "He is going strong," said Petacchi of Pozzato. But Petacchi thinks that he is going even better, pointing towards his race sensations.
"I did not think that I would come here and go so well on the climbs. I feel great, I never arrived dead or tired [after the stages], and I recovered with ease. The Cipressa and Poggio are less difficult than the climbs we faced here, and I have the resistance. I am confident."