Waiting for Petacchi

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram)

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) (Image credit: Sirotti)

The Milram team named sprinter Alessandro Petacchi to its Tour de France squad, despite having placed the rider under suspension following a 'non-negative' doping control from the Giro d'Italia. Petacchi, who has permission from the UCI to use the asthma drug Salbutamol, tested above the WADA limit of 1000ng/ml for the drug during the Giro. He is due to have a hearing with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) as early as Monday to argue that the results were due to a medical need for the drug, and find out if the committee will allow him to continue racing. Milram, following the ProTour code of ethics, temporarily suspended the rider until the investigation is completed.

The team will target stage wins with their sprinter-heavy squad. Former green jersey wearer Erik Zabel will celebrate his 37th birthday at the Tour prologue. Not a man to suffer from triskaidekaphobia, Zabel is going into his 13th Tour de France with a fearless attitude after a heart-heavy spring confession to doping in the 1996 Tour. "I want to be a full part of Team Milram and celebrate successes together with my team at the Tour de France," said Zabel.

Marcel Sieberg and Enrico Poitschke are making their debut at the Tour, and with a strong first half of the season, Sieberg was one of the squad's first picks. "Marcel integrated himself into the team very well," said manager Gianluigi Stanga. The 25 year-old sprinter who took second in sprints at a stage of the Tour of Qatar and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne will be an excellent foil for the team's better known sprinters. "I’m excited about the whole event," Sieberg said. "I always dreamt of being at the Tour de France. I am especially resolved to do good work for the team and to finish in Paris. Maybe I can even show myself in a break or two."

Christian Knees and Ralf Grabsch both will start their second Tour de France this year, and Knees, who had a particularly aggressive 2006 Tour, wants to repeat that tactic. "One of my personal goals is to be in a break again and maybe even to get through. But the first priority is to work for the team," said Knees.

Should Petacchi be able to race, he will join fellow sprinter Erik Zabel, Ralf Grabsch, Christian Knees, Enrico Poitscke, Marcel Sieberg, Alberto Ongarato, Alexander Cortinovis, Brett Lancaster. If CONI decides against Petacchi, Andry Grivko will take his place on the team, to be led by directors Antonio Bevilacqua and Vittorio Algeri.

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