By Jean-François Quénet in Milan
In the legend of Alessandro Petacchi, there's an amusing anecdote of September 5, 1982, when young Alessandro and his father Lucio destroyed the sofa as they exulted watching Giuseppe Saronni become the world champion in Goodwood, England. By winning his 24th stage in the Tour of Italy in Milan, 'Ale-Jet' has equalled the number reached by Saronni in his time.
Along with this exceptional number of Giro stage wins, Petacchi was thrilled to win in Milan for the third time. "For the past two years I hadn't finished the Giro," he remembered. "One year ago, I watched the race on TV. I was injured with no morale. Believing that I've won 16 races since my accident, five stages in this Giro plus the ciclamino jersey of the points competition, it's really something I doubted I'd be able to do."
Petacchi's Milram team was down to six men by the final stage in Milan, and his train was missing two important members who did not start the Giro, Marco Velo and Fabio Sacchi, but Mirko Lorenzetto and Brett Lancaster, his two last lead out men, did a fantastic job once again in Milan. "We were only six in the Milram team at the end, but it's been a very good team anyway", Petacchi said.
Getting to Milan wasn't easy for Petacchi, especially after his third win in Pinerolo, when he considered quitting because he was tired. "But when I saw my team-mates at dinner table, I thought it wouldn't make any sense for them to continue the Giro without me, I looked at their faces and I decided to stay."
Now Petacchi has his sights set on the Tour de France. "It's possible to win stages at both Giro and Tour, I've done it before." In 2003, Petacchi had a spectacular season for Grand Tour stage wins, winning six in the Giro, four in the Tour and three in the Vuelta. With his old form starting to shine through, Ale-Jet is hoping for a bit of revenge in this year's Tour. "I hope to win again at the Tour, I want to beat Tom Boonen because I wasn't at the best of my capacities when I raced against him at the Tour of Qatar early this year."