Ale-Jet keeps a positive outlook

Petacchi and champagne

Petacchi and champagne (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Italy’s Alessandro Petacchi (Team Milram) had a bad 2006 season. He had 'only' 13 wins - ten of them stage wins, including all five stages of Oddset Rundfahrt and the overall GC. For most riders, this would be the ride of a lifetime, but for a sprinter who took stage wins in all three Grand Tours in 2005, not getting a single tour stage was a big disappointment. Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez talked to the dapper Italian to find out how he plans to overcome the setbacks of 2006.

Alessandro 'Ale-Jet' Petacchi started out the season on a good note by continuing his winning form from 2005. He came out flying, winning the GP Costa degli Etruschi , and taking two stages at Vuelta a Andalucia in a 'clash of the titans' against Tom Boonen. Petacchi followed this by bagging two stages at the Comunidad Valenciana Tour, then went on to win the Giro della Provincia di Lucca, one stage at Tirreno-Adriatico, before going on to simply demolished the competition by winning all stages and the overall at the Oddset Rundfahrt. But things quickly went south in Petacchi's first major goal of the season, the Giro d’Italia.

Early in the tour, on stage three in Namur, Belgium, a multi-rider crash occurred, sending one rider sliding into Petacchi, hooking his handlebars. Ale-Jet felt over on his left side and hit his left knee hard. Remarkably, Petacchi finished the stage, but an x-ray later that evening showed that he had broken his kneecap. He had to leave the race before it even touched Italian soil. The break required surgery, and the long recovery meant that he also had to miss the Tour de France.

Petacchi was back on the bike in time for the Vuelta a España, and this tour was supposed to be his revenge. But luck wasn’t on his side once again, as he didn’t manage to win a single stage for two reasons: he wasn’t in perfect condition due to his recovery process from surgery for the first two weeks, and then a fit of anger ended his season on stage 15. On the flat stage to Almussafes, Ale-Jet was ready to fly to victory, but once again fate had other plans.

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