Veteran sprinter Alessandro Petacchi has been working hard with his new Lampre-Farnese Vini teammates at a training camp in Tuscany, as he readies for his season debut on Saturday at the Challenge Calabria in southern Italy.
While most of the Lampre riders spent 11 days on the Tuscan coast, Petacchi and the five riders who will make up his leadout train, arrived on January 21 from warm-weather altitude training in the Canary Islands.
At the camp Petacchi simulated sprints with Danilo Hondo, Mauro Da Dalto, Lorenzo Bernucci, Manuele Mori, Mirco Lorenzetto. Hondo will be Petacchi's leadout man in the sprints as he tries to take on his younger sprint rivals.
Team leader Damiano Cunego and the other riders continued a much more low-key build-up to the season. The Italian, who will focus more on the classics and stage wins rather than major Tours in 2010, continued to alternate riding a fixed gear bike with his normal road bike. Before the camp, Cunego and several of his new teammates worked on their time trial positions on the new indoor Italian track near Brescia.
"Thanks to great weather conditions, we were able to work really well," said directeur sportif Maurizio Piovani said.
"We planned the training so that the riders could do the specific work they were unable to do at home due to the bad weather. We mixed distance rides with threshold work. It was interesting to see the riders simulate the sprints for Petacchi, with Di Dalto, Bernucci, Lorenzetto and then last man Hondo launching Alessandro."
Petacchi will make his racing debut in the bright pink and blue Lampre colours on Saturday at the Challenge Calabria four-day stage race in southern Italy. He will then ride the GP Costa degli Etruschi in Tuscany on Saturday, February 6, stay in Tuscany for another block of training and then ride the Giro di Sardegna on February 23-27.
Petacchi's first showdown with Mark Cavendish and the other sprinters will probably be Tirreno-Adriatico (March 10-16).