By Gregor Brown
Alessandro Petacchi thinks that stage wins will be hard fought in next year's Giro d'Italia, after the event's route was revealed at the weekend. The Team LPR sprinter, on hand at the presentation Saturday night at Venice's Teatro Fenice, believes that stage wins in the three-week Italian Tour will require a strong team.
"It is a truly diverse and opposite Giro; there are climbs right away," Petacchi told Cyclingnews.
Organiser RCS Sport presented a 2009 Giro, May 9 to 31, with climbs into the Dolomites after just four days of racing. Typically the race faces the northern mountains in the final week, but this year they appear early in favour of the Apennine mountains and a finish in Rome. Italian Petacchi, with 19 Giro stage wins to his name, will call on his teammates to keep the race together in some of the demanding stage finishes.
"There are five or six stages [available for sprint finishes], but to arrive in a group in some of those stages you have to be going very hard," he said.
After the opening team time trial in Venice, the first two stages available for sprinters feature climbs in the second-half. The 95-metre climb of Montebello appears three times before the finale of Stage 2 to Trieste. Stage 3 has similar ascents that will make organising a sprint difficult.
Petacchi, wearer of the maglia rosa in 2005, said it would require a strong effort for him to take the leader's top in the opening days of the race.