By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Madrid
Italy's Alessandro Petacchi is a very big candidate for the Madrid World Championships, even though he tries to get rid of the pressure of being among the top favourites. After winning his fifth stage at the Vuelta a España, he spoke about the race he will race on September 25.
"It is a very ugly finale," Petacchi said. "It's very difficult because the team is very important. It's an almost 500-meter sprint because you should accelerate and then do the sprint. There should be two very strong riders up front. It's hard; I think everyone says it is an easy course but it's not. I think the race is very long, almost 280 kilometres. It is certain that many riders will try to attack me in the climb in the park. This is not the Zolder's World's as everybody thinks."
He also talked about Germany's Erik Zabel, who impressed him during the Vuelta. "He will certainly do a big race on Sunday because I have seen him doing fine during the last week. He is a rider that can be in front during long races and he does good sprints."
Asked who he would count as favourites for the victory next Sunday, 'Ale-Jet' replied, "If it ends in a bunch sprint, I think [Robbie] McEwen, because the course features a last corner good for him to find a better position. But I think it's going to be difficult to finish in a bunch sprint all together."
About his condition, Petacchi said that he hoped to be in better shape than the other sprinters because he finished the Vuelta. "I have one week to study the course and see," he concluded.