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Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre) showers the press with bubbly in Orihuela.
Italian sprinter bemoans the lack of flat stages
While the climbers and overall contenders were happy to see so many ascents and mountain finishes in the route of the 2011 Giro d'Italia, the sprinters were disappointed to see so few flat stages on the race profile.
The official race book classifies seven stages as flat but of these, five include climbs in the final 30km that could make the sprinters suffer. Only stage eight to Trope and 12 to Ravenna are totally flat.
Sacha Modolo of the Colnago-CSF Inox immediately made it clear he does not like the route and Alessandro Petacchi was also unhappy.
"I think I've done the Giro 11 times and this one will be my 12th. They're always hard but things seem to be getting worse and worse," he told Cyclingnews.
"It seems we've always got to go out and work to make sure a stage ends in a sprint. They say there are seven stages for the sprinters but there are probably only two really flat stages where the peloton will stay together and we're certain to end in a sprint."
Petacchi tried to see the bright side of the many hilly finishes, explaining how can climb better than any of his rivals sprinters. He also raised concerns about general safety, however.
"If I'm going well, the tough finishes can be an advantage because the pure sprinters might get dropped while I hang on and then still be up there in the sprint," said the points classification winner at this year's Tour de France.
"Some of the climbs, like the one before the finish in Livorno, which I know, are not that difficult but what about the safety aspect? You could lose a Giro just because of a puncture on a dirt road or pave. Look at Armstrong, he lost time in the Tour de France because he punctured on the pave. Is that fair?"
Petacchi won two stages and the Tour's green jersey but was embroiled in a doping investigation in Italy as the Tour was ending. He has yet to be formally charged of any wrongdoing and hopes to ride the Giro for several more years.
"I'd like to do another two, three or even four Giri. It's possible and just depends on motivation," he explained. "I think motivation is 70 percent of it all. I'm still motivated and so I think I can race until I'm 40. I won’t be as strong or as fast as a 25-year-old but I'll have the advantage of experience on my side."