Giro d'Italia Cycling News for May 15, 2007
Edited by Ben Abrahams
Petacchi overcomes his doubts
By Jean-François Quénet in Cagliari
Ale-jet is back at the '07 Giro
Photo ©: Sirotti
Alessandro Petacchi has won ten races already this year but there were
still many lingering questions over his ability to win at the highest
level after the Italian failed to claim either Milan-San Remo or Gent-Wevelgem
this season. "Had I not won at the Giro, nothing else done before
would have counted," said Petacchi of his season to date.
One year ago, on stage three, he was out of the race already with a broken
knee. "I went through a lot of doubts afterwards," he commented,
remembering his recovery period when he couldn't even match a 90 year-old
woman in a pedaling exercise. "I've received huge support from Michele
[former classics champion Bartoli]. He also had a serious accident in
his career [at the Tour of Germany in 1999 - ed] and he knew what was
happening to me. I've asked him for so much advice. You realise who your
real friends are when you need them in a difficult time."
Petacchi also mentioned someone that he considers like a "second
father" who has also helped him a lot and deserves the dedication
for this Giro stage win. However, he maintained that this person wants
to remain anonymous, although many of the assembled media suspected it
to be Dr Luigi Cecchini who is now under investigation for the Italian
arm of Operación Puerto. The Tuscan coach was quoted in
Milan daily newspaper Il Giornale as having only five riders under
his wings now: Damiano Cunego, Petacchi and three others that he wouldn't
Talking about his win, Petacchi said: "I'm a sprinter of instinct.
Sometimes it has made me lose races but today it made me win. With 350
metres to go, I've taken the risk to go too early but it worked out. It's
been one of the longest sprints of my career. In such a finish, the legs
count more than the team."
In fact, there were no Milram riders forming a train like the day before,
when he lost to Robbie McEwen and Paolo Bettini. "It's not the first
time that I've won without a train," he said. "But the team
has believed in me till the end. It's been our guys to go and catch the
two breakaway riders [Mikhail Ignatiev and Giovanni Visconti]. The last
25 kilometres were very nervous. I stayed on the wheels very easily. I
know my rivals were spending energy because of the side wind, I didn't."
Tears of joy
Photo ©: Sirotti
There have been doubts about Petacchi's train too, despite the Milram
leader saying yesterday: "The train has worked but not me."
Marco Velo was unable to ride the Giro this year because of his crash
at Gent-Wevelgem and the other important part of the train, Fabio Sacchi,
was left at home by Milram, officially for health reasons although Sacchi
has said he's fine and not sick.
"We know that we have other good riders for the job", Petacchi
said, referring to Brett Lancaster and Mirko Lorenzetto, the replacements
at the end of the train with Alberto Ongarato in between.
"This is one of the most beautiful wins of my career. To win at
the Giro is something different from winning anywhere else. You probably
have seen my emotions today, there were cries of joy."
Judging by previous years, Petacchi could well experience more of those
moments before reaching Milan.
Hansen breaks fingers
By Susan Westemeyer
T-Mobile's Adam Hansen was excited about riding the Giro in only his
first year on a ProTour team, but it hasn't quite worked out the way the
Australian hoped - instead of continuing triumphantly on to Milan, he
is now facing an operating room at the Freiburg University Clinic in Germany.
There was only one mountain in Sunday's second stage, and it proved to
be his undoing. "It was so simple, a rider in front of me riding
uphill decided to cross my wheel without looking and there was nothing
I could do as I had a rider on the other side," he told Cyclingnews.
"If he would have paid a little more attention, then I would have
been still be racing today."
Although he hurt his hand in the resulting crash, Hansen finished the
stage, but with difficulty. "In the last 40km I had huge problems
because that was the hilly part, so I couldn't brake well or stand up.
So getting dropped out of every corner and not being able to break with
one hand made it hard to descend."
X-rays on Monday morning showed "two breaks, maybe three in my right
hand. But one of the breaks goes through the joint, this is the major
problem I have been told, otherwise I would continue, but the doc says
On Monday afternoon the team announced that he had broken the ring finger
and little finger on his right hand and will be operated on this week
Ignatiev dreamt of the maglia rosa
By Jean-François Quénet in Cagliari
Visconti and Ignatiev
Photo ©: Sirotti
The Tinkoff show continues on the roads of the Tour of Italy. After seventh
place in the team time trial and Pavel Brutt's long breakaway in stage
two, which earned him the green jersey of the king of the mountains, it
was Mikhail Ignatiev's turn to represent the young generation of Russian
stars in the stage three escape.
"It was better for him than for me today," Brutt said after
crossing the finishing line. Today it was dead flat, which is what suits
Mikhail the best, while I'm a better climber and yesterday there were
a few hills. I'm happy with the way I've recovered from my efforts yesterday.
I felt comfortable in the bunch."
Listening to Ignatiev, there is another version of what Tinkoff's tactics
might have been the day before. "I know the second day in a stage
race is the best for me, the 22 year-old from St Petersburg said. "That's
why I wanted to break away yesterday, but Brutt went before I did it.
It doesn't matter because I got my chance today."
He expected a lot from his move from the gun. "Unfortunately the
two Frenchmen [Alexandre Pichot from Bouygues Telecom and Mickaël
Buffaz from Cofidis - Ed] who were with us didn't cooperate really, they
didn't have good form. I still think it was possible to make it to the
finish. I've worked a lot for that. I knew that the tail wind would favour
the peloton which was racing at a very high speed in the last five kilometers."
Ignatiev revealed there was a deal between him and his breakaway buddy
Giovanni Visconti on the way to Cagliari. "The Quick.Step team agreed
that we would work together for the last two kilometres without looking
back. Doing so, I would have left the stage win to Quick.Step and the
maglia rosa would have been for me. I dreamt of seeing myself in
pink with five kilometres to go. But when we looked behind, the bunch
was very close."
Ignatiev gives it the juice
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Ignatiev thinks the Giro d'Italia "is not fun" and he amazed
the assembled journalists by saying so. He explained: "You need a
lot of luck for winning a stage when you go in a breakaway. It's more
controlled than at any other bike race. When I attacked yesterday after
Brutt was caught, I stayed away for five or six minutes, no more. Liquigas
is a very big team."
The Tinkoff team is somewhat weakened by the loss of Tyler Hamilton and
Jörg Jaksche, but it doesn't seem to bother Ignatiev too much, as
he gets more freedom without big leaders in his team. "In the first
month of the year our team didn't get good press because of these riders.
I don't want to comment about Hamilton's life. Ask my sponsor. I can only
say Hamilton is a very good guy."
At Sydney's Track World Cup at the end of last year, Ignatiev was skeptical
about Hamilton joining his Russian-sponsored team since the American was
the man who took the Olympic title away from Viatcheslav Ekimov in Athens.
Now he has revised his opinion of his team-mate, but Hamilton's absence
doesn't mean the end of Tinkoff's GC ambitions at the Tour of Italy. "Evgeni
Petrov will be our man and we have Riccardo Serrano and Brutt for helping
him in the mountains. For me, the flat stages are much better."
Ignatiev still has the pedaling style of a track racer, and the Olympic
points race champion intends to defend his title in Beijing next year.
"Road and track, it's 50-50 for me now", he said, knowing that
road racing will only make him stronger.
Bileka speaks about rest day and stage three
By Shane Stokes in Cagliari
With the Giro d'Italia entourage moving to the mainland on Monday night
and Tuesday morning, the riders have a rest day of sorts. Most of the
race will take the ferry from Cagliari on Monday evening and sail through
the night, while the riders will fly over in the morning.
Although it is early in the race, Discovery Channel rider Volodymyr Bileka
said that the peloton would use it as an opportunity to rest in advance
of the tough stages to come. "Tomorrow we will do a maximum of two
hours on the bike. We will rest, sleep and eat. Next week will be very
He said that the race to Cagliari was steady but that the speed ramped
up towards the end. "The stage was long and hot with a very quick
finale. At this point of the race everybody is fresh and therefore everybody
is trying to be involved in the sprint. It makes things more risky and
Roche shows speed in final kilometre
By Shane Stokes in Cagliari
Young Irish rider Nicolas Roche was riding to set up the sprint for his
Crédit Agricole team but instead found himself off the front inside
the final kilometre of Monday's stage to Cagliari. He hit the front at
the red kite, got a gap and held off the rest of the field for approximately
600 metres. He was swamped with about 400 metres to go, while teammate
Thor Hushovd hit the deck in a crash which took down several riders.
"I was clear inside the final kilometre," the 22 year old told
Cyclingnews at the finish. "Initially I was riding to lead
out the sprint [for Hushovd] but when I went, the guy behind me let the
wheel go and I got a bit of a gap. They caught me with about 400 metres
to go." Roche sat up once he was caught and rolled across the line
in 46th place, being classified in the same time as stage winner Alessandro
Petacchi (Team Milram).
Despite his prominent showing, Roche said that the stage was tough due
to problems with his cycling shoes in the heat. "I wasn't feeling
the best all day. With the heat, I can't feel my legs. It's the first
time to ride with these shoes in such hot weather and my feet were killing
me. I will try to have to get something sorted out. But I guess it is
a good sign to go like that in the final kilometre of a stage."
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