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Petacchi refutes the idea of his cancelled wins

Alessandro Petacchi ( LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini)

Alessandro Petacchi ( LPR Brakes - Farnese Vini) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Due to all the controversial doping affairs, the palmarès – or record books – of cycling can be interpreted in very different ways. Do Thor Hushovd, Gabriele Balducci and Max Richeze consider themselves as stage winners of the 2007 Giro d'Italia? The man who beat them, Alessandro Petacchi, doesn't accept the idea that he's been disqualified after failing a dope test for Salbutamol. Strangely, he was even stripped of the two stage wins he got prior to the 11th stage where he was found positive.

"I'll always count 164 wins for myself as per today," said the Italian whose first win as a professional occurred on the stage to Mersing in the 1998 Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia. It's interesting to see that Petacchi counts 164 while the official profile issued by the organisation of the Giro d'Italia makes it 135, including some criteriums which weren't part of the international calendar.

It was actually the 25th time Petacchi crossed a finishing line as the winner in the Giro d'Italia. "The nicest remains the first one in Lecce in 2003 because it also gave me the pink jersey and I won in front of Mario [Cipollini] who was the world champion at the time," said Petacchi. "I also enjoyed winning in Cagliari two years ago because it was my first one after the big crash I had in 2006."

In fact, he's doing his second comeback to the Giro d'Italia this year at the age of 35. One year ago he was given a one-year ban with retrospective effects. In reality he wasn't allowed to race from May to August but returned successfully to competition with three stage wins at the 2008 Tour of Britain. He'll remember his winning sprint at Trieste for being on the first birthday of his son to whom he dedicated his success.

He was also proud of beating Mark Cavendish for two reasons. About the first one, the Italian said, "For a few days I was wondering how I could beat him. I didn't understand. I could only see pictures like in Qatar. I wanted to make sure he really had the speed. I started with 250 metres to go and he didn't start. I took the risk that he'd pass me. He's very young. We'll hear a lot about him again. I'd like to maybe finish my career at the service of a great sprinter when I don't have the will to take risks anymore."

The second reason is related to his team. "Just before the Giro I lost Alberto Ongarato and Lorenzo Bernucci because of fractures," Petacchi said. "They've had to stay at home. Now I'm backed by teammates who don't have the characteristics for the lead-out at all but we've planned something this morning and we've done it. Climbers doing this job means the value of their work is double! I've told them: when the others arrive, I'll do my own thing."

Petacchi was known for sprinting out from a train. Not having one this year at LPR, he found the wheels of Edvald Boasson Hagen, Mark Renshaw and Cavendish from Team Columbia. He now hopes to do it again to take over the race leadership from the Brit in pink.

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