Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) explained that he had picked out the uphill sprint at Fiuggi as his opportunity to shine at the Giro d'Italia. The Spaniard emerged victorious on stage 6 on Thursday to grab the biggest victory of his career.
In a frenetic finish, Ventoso launched his effort early, and he had the legs to hold off a surprisingly strong Petacchi. The Italian himself admitted that he had not expected to feature in such a demanding finale.
"This was one of the stages that I had singled out beforehand for my Giro," a beaming Ventoso said afterwards. "Now I hope to be able to get some more decent results."
The Spaniard explained that he had deliberately planted himself on Petacchi's wheel in the finale, as he was on paper the fastest man left in the 80-man front group.
"With a kilometre to go, I got on Petacchi's wheel and it was his teammate (Danilo) Hondo who controlled all the attacks," Ventoso said.
The first major move on the haul to the finish line came from Danilo Di Luca (Katusha), who ripped clear 500 metres from home and briefly looked set to snatch victory. However, he was brought back as the road pitched upwards, and Ventoso and Petacchi were left to duke it out.
"When I jumped, Petacchi took my wheel and I thought he would pass me, but I was able to hold him off until the line," Ventoso said. "It's a great joy for me and the team."
In spite of his explosive display in the finishing straight, Ventoso admitted that he had suffered with the high pace on the more gradual run-in to the line that preceded the sharp finish in Fiuggi.
"Between the 10km and 5km to go point, the terrain wasn't so hard, but it was very fast," he said. "I was about to give up many times, but once we got through the tunnel [ahead of the closing stages - ed.], I felt much better and I knew that I was past the hardest part."
Thursday's win marked Ventoso's fifth win of a season that began in Australia at the Santos Tour Down Under, and he was keen to credit his team's role in his spate of success in 2011. He arrived at the squad from Camiooro at the end of last year.
"That makes it five wins for the year now, I'm delighted with how I'm doing at Movistar," he said. "It's a very relaxed team that has allowed me to ride with a lot of serenity because they have placed a lot of confidence in me."