Petacchi and Matt Lloyd to ride Santos Tour Down Under

Alessandro Petacchi will begin his 2012 season at the Santos Tour Down Under in January. He will be joined in a strong Lampre-ISD line-up by Australian Matt Lloyd, who signed after being released by Omega Pharma-Lotto earlier in 2011.

“The management staff floated the idea of the starting the season in Australia, and after thinking about it for a while, I accepted the opportunity with interest,” Petacchi said. “I’m sure it will be a valid experience, especially because it will give me the chance to improve my understanding with my teammates.”

Petacchi’s Antipodean start will also give him the opportunity to clock up some WorldTour points early in the season. Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport recently, Petacchi admitted that he would even consider prioritising earning WorldTour points elsewhere over starting the Giro d’Italia in 2012.

Regardless of whether Petacchi is on the start line in Herning in May, however, the Italian is a certainty to line up for the big home race of the spring, Milan-San Remo. The La Spezia native won La Classicissima in 2005, and was denied a repeat by Filippo Pozzato’s late attack the following year.

“I hope that the Tour Down Under could be the first step along the path that leads to the finish line of Milan-San Remo,” Petacchi said.

Joining him in Australia will be his regular lead-out team of Danilo Hondo and Grega Bole, and Petacchi is hopeful that he will have a sprint train at his disposal in January, with Davide Cimolai, Massimo Graziato and David Viganò all set to feature.

“The Santos Tour Down Under is the best chance to try out the workings of the train to support Petacchi,” said directeur sportif Bruno Vicino, who also highlighted the importance of Matt Lloyd, king of the mountains at the 2010 Giro d’Italia. “We’re delighted to count Lloyd among our number. He’ll be in good condition early on, and thanks to him, Lampre-ISD could have a lot of support in Australia.”

Lampre-ISD team for 2012 Santos Tour Down Under, January 17-22: Alessandro Petacchi, Grega Bole, Danilo Hondo, Davide Cimolai, Massimo Graziato, Davide Viganò and Matthew Lloyd.

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