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An interview with Alessandro Petacchi, September 4, 2005

Madrid in his sights

Alessandro Petacchi would generally be the number one bet as the winner in a bunch sprint. And this week has been no exception, with the Italian already prevailing three times in the Vuelta a Espana. Ale Jet won in Puertollano, Argamasilla de Alba and Lloret de Mar. His 'harvest' of wins seems to come from an everlasting pot of honey, bringing his career stage wins at the Vuelta to 15...and counting. Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez Macias caught up with the Italian super sprinter after his third triumph in the Vuelta in Lloret de Mar.

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)
Photo ©: AFP
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Petacchi is just 22 days shy of possibly his biggest challenge of the year; the elite road race at the World Championships in Madrid. With multiple victories at the Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, as well as Milan-San Remo earlier this year, itís the only title missing in his collection. And if he wins in the Spanish capital, he'll equal Mario Cipolliniís sensational 2002 season when Super Mario won both Milan-San Remo and the World title.

Cyclingnews: How was todayís stage?

Alessandro Petacchi: Things went well, very well. When I looked at it on the map, the route seemed flat all the way, but we spent the whole day going up and down.

CN: Is it a goal for you to win three times at the Vuelta?

AP: Of course, I like to win. The first win was the one I liked it most because I didnít actually know in which condition I was. I didnít race much after the Giro. Besides, I had fallen off the bike recently and broken one finger. I wanted to know how I was at the moment.

CN: The heat was an important factor during the Vueltaís first week. Do you like the heat or do you prefer cold weather?

AP: I donít like extreme heat or cold. I like an even temperature. We had three hard stages with heat and a dry weather. Today, fortunately, it wasnít too hot, around 30ļ. Today was a little easier in terms of heat than other days.

CN: You said you donít want to talk about the Worlds any more. But you can't really overlook it; how are you feeling in the leadup to the race?

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)
Photo ©: AFP
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AP: I feel pretty good. I have to work some more for the Worlds. We still have less than a month to prepare ourselves but I think I have time to train, to work, and then to race. I hope I keep the good condition going all the way to the actual race.

CN: Did you see the Worldís route?

AP: Yes, I did. The route is fine; itís rather fast, and of course itís not absolutely flat. I think that with two or three teammates of mine we are able to make it a bunch sprint finale.

CN: For how long will you stay racing at the Vuelta?

AP: I donít know. I want to race two weeks, thatís for sure; itís possible that I could race a bit more. Itís also possible that I stop ten days before the beginning of the Worlds.

CN: Do you know the Italian team for Madrid?

Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo)
Photo ©: Unipublic
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AP: It hasn't been named yet. The national coach [Franco Ballerini] will give the official list on September 15. Of course I know some of my teammates already - I know some of them, but not all of them yet. I think we can put together a good team so we can work with riders who specialise in bunch sprints.

CN: Many people compare you to Mario Cipollini. What do you think about that?

AP: I think we sprint in very similar ways. Mario was a little weaker on the climbs. Maybe I'm stronger on climbing stages where he couldnít reach the front.

CN: How do you see your team Fassa Bortolo at the Vuelta?

AP: We are happy, and working very well. Yesterday there was no luck. The day in Cuenca I would have liked to have been in the bunch sprint considering it was a tough stage with climbs. The Cuenca stage was very hard; I was up the front, but [Juan Antonio] Flecha fell off his bike. I was glad I was riding with the leaders, but then I stayed with Flecha after his fall. I told him that the most important thing was that he was alright.

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