Milram clarifies Petacchi & Zabel roles

The question of who will do what among the two star sprinters at new ProTour team Milram gets its first answer for 2006: Alessandro Petacchi will lead the team at the Vuelta a Andalucía, February 12-16, 2006. Marca reports that Petacchi's presence has been secured by the race after an agreement between the organisers and team director Vittorio Algeri.

Later in the year, both Petacchi and Erik Zabel will probably line up for the Tour de France. According to German news agency DPA Zabel will contend for the green jersey, which he has won six times (1996-2001 inclusive) while Petacchi will go for stage victories.

Team manager Gerry van Gerwen told DPA he was not worried about a conflict between the sprinters. "Both Zabel and Petacchi will probably start the Tour," he said, "which is a huge advantage for our team and our project. Petacchi offers the certainty of one, two or more stage wins. If that happens early [in the race] the team could then concentrate on working for Erik to take the green jersey."

The season's first one-day Classic, Milan San Remo, is a race both riders have won in the past. But for 2006, "the race profile has changed," van Gerwen said. "Now there is another climb shortly before the finish. Perhaps that is too difficult for Petacchi." However, Petacchi has listed Milan-San Remo as one of his goals for 2006, along with the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France.

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