Petacchi on par with Coppi

Yesterday in Pinerolo, Alessandro Petacchi took his 22nd Giro d'Italia stage, which put him on par...

Yesterday in Pinerolo, Alessandro Petacchi took his 22nd Giro d'Italia stage, which put him on par with Italian legend Fausto Coppi and Belgian Roger De Vlaeminck, but it was almost not to be due to his fear of the wet roads.

Rain started to fall in stage 11 and Petacchi's mind flashed back to the brutal crash in stage three of the 2006 Giro. The incident left him with a fractured kneecap and a shattered morale.

"I seriously thought to pull myself out of the front positions, I am not ashamed to say that when it rains I am afraid," he reflected after the stage, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. However, seeing his Milram teammates forming for the lead-out inspired the 33 year-old Italian sprinter.

"When I realized the team was working splendidly, steering me in front to line and, therefore, in a less dangerous position, I decided to go on [with the sprint]. I did not crash. The Lancaster train in the finale was wild! He is a true track rider.

"The sprint went well," he continued. "I won even though Balducci was so close. Now, don't ask me if I have intentions on continuing."

The maxi-caduta ('large crash') saw many riders crossing the finish line without their bikes. "I was sure that someone would end up on the ground; on the publicity streaks you can't stay upright, as soon as you touch your brakes you fly to the ground."

Petacchi is considering his season and the fact that "there are only two more [sprint] stages" in the Giro. "My objective was not the number of wins but to that I still had the capability to win, and this I have done." He wants to vie for stage victories in the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.

Petacchi's 22 stage wins put him in eighth of the all-time Giro stage winners; first is Super Mario Cipollini, 42, and second is Alfredo Binda, 41. "For a sprinter it is easier. I can't be compared to him [Coppi]."

Author: Greg Johnson
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