Petacchi expects "grand" battles with Cavendish

Alessandro Petacchi is prepared to battle cycling's newest super sprinter, Mark Cavendish, at the Giro d'Italia, starting Saturday in Venice.

Alessandro Petacchi is prepared to battle cycling's newest super sprinter, Mark Cavendish, at the Giro d'Italia, starting Saturday in Venice. The Italian is confident thanks to recent wins and 19 career Giro d'Italia stage victories.

"We are all top sprinters and, like always, in Grand Tours there will be 'grand' battles. Certainly, Cavendish is an important rival."

The sprint rivals in this year's Giro d'Italia, May 9 to 31, have been lessened with the non-participation of Daniele Bennati (Liquigas), Robbie McEwen (Katusha), Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) and Oscar Freire (Rabobank). Still, Petacchi will be up against the likes of Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream), Allan Davis (Quick Step), Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Juan José Haedo (Saxo Bank)

"I am not sure of all of the names but those who line up at the Giro will not be underestimated."

Petacchi's stock is high thanks to wins in Scheldeprijs last month and the Giro di Toscana Sunday. Those wins bring his season count to eight, three more than when he last started the Giro d'Italia in 2007.

"When you win leading up to a Grand Tour it lets you know what type of condition you have. It is a good gauge a week out. I am feeling good and happy with how it has been going in these last days. I think I will arrive in good shape for the Giro d'Italia."

LPR Brakes will back Petacchi for the sprints, but also battle for the race overall with 2007 winner Danilo Di Luca.

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