Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) said that the respiratory problems that delayed his start to the season were more serious than he had anticipated and that he feared his entire spring programme would be ruined. The Italian is currently preparing for Milan-San Remo at Tirreno-Adriatico, where he finished second behind Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) on stage two.
“I missed 15 or 16 days of racing,” Petacchi told Gazzetta dello Sport ahead of the stage. “I thought of giving it all up several times, I thought that I’d lost my entire spring. I should have gone to Qatar and instead I was in hospital with serious bronchial asthma and breathing problems. It was much more serious than you imagine.
“I did a week-long course of antibiotics and cortisone. I have always suffered from it, but as a young man it wasn’t as serious. Clearly these strains make themselves felt with age.”
Petacchi returned to racing at the Giro di Sardegna but before his second place on day two of Tirreno-Adriatico, he had not contested a sprint since the 2010 Vuelta a España. With just over a week until Milan-San Remo, he is banking on the race between the two seas to help him get into shape ahead of La Classicissima.
“My morale isn’t exactly on a high, but I’m suffering more on a physical level because I only have eight days of racing in my legs,” Petacchi said. “On paper [Tirreno-Adriatico] is perfect. I’m hoping for a very hard race. Saturday and Sunday are two very long and difficult stages.
“You know what San Remo means to me, I like it, and it means a lot to me to do it to the best of my possibilities, whatever they may be. I want to reach Saturday the 19th at peace with my conscience.”
There has been no recent update on the status of the Padua-based doping inquiry that placed Petacchi under investigation last summer, but the man from La Spezia is nonetheless planning to be part of Italian coach Paolo Bettini’s plans for September’s world championships and he trained in California for three weeks during the winter with that in mind.
After Milan-San Remo, Petacchi will tackle the Volta a Catalunya and he is set to compete in all three Grand Tours in a bid to secure his status as Italian leader at a race he believes is ideal for the sprinters.
“I will rider the first part of the Giro [d'Italia], as far as Ravenna,” Petacchi said. “I owe it to Lampre because there’s the team time trial and last year Scarponi saw the Giro slip away because of the time lost in that test. Then I will ride the Tour [de France] and the Vuelta [a Espana] if I have the possibility of doing the Worlds.”