Alesandro Petacchi is looking forward to today's Gent-Wevelgem, his last one in the spring classics campaign. Meanwhile, the Italian supersprinter expected more of his Ronde Van Vlaanderen debut.
"That casino on the Koppenberg and the stampede towards the foot of that climb! Fear? Of course I was afraid!," Petacchi told HNB. "Even in the sprint I feel that fear, but I can push that aside when the peloton races towards the finish. In the Ronde, I was thinking of all the races that are still to come though: the Giro, the Tour. No, you don't take any crazy risks in a race in which you aren't one of the top favourites. That's why I'm not riding Paris-Roubaix. There's too much risk to ruin the important part of my season. And, we do have Zabel! But I'm going to keep racing for at least another three seasons, so I've got plenty of time to ride that famous Hell of the North."
Petacchi affirmed that he will be back for next year's RVV, to achieve that top ten placing he had hoped for last Sunday. But first things first: Did he think that he had a more achievable goal in Gent-Wevelgem?
"Luckily this is a less complicated race than Flanders," Petacchi replied. "It's not that hard, less technical. One needs to be aware of the wind, and be careful in the descent of the Kemmel, which is doable. If I'm not wrong, they aren't predicting any rain. I'm not saying it will be easy. On the contrary. To ride a stage in the Giro means only 30 km of stress - here, you have the whole race, but that's how it is in Belgium. With how many riders will we go into the finale after the Kemmel? Thirty, forty men? Never a guarantee for a sprint which I'm hoping for. There's always a possibility for a break to get away, like last year. Gent-Wevelgem is a race in which also the sprinters need to make the right moves. Yes, like Cipollini, the last time he won, that's a good example."
Cyclingnews will be covering the 68th Gent-Wevelgem live from 14:30 CEST/08:30 EDT (USA east)/05:30 PDT (USA west)/22:30 AEST (Australia east).