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90th Tour de France - July 5-27, 2003

Shy guy Petacchi: "I'll win it"

Petacchi talks to Cyclingnews after his stage 1 win

By Gabriella Ekström in Meaux
Shy but popular
Photo: © CN

When speaking to Cyclingnews in the village in Saint-Denis before the start of stage 1, Petacchi was honest about his chances today. Being a flat stage in the first week of the Tour, it was designed for him, but was he confident he could win it? "Yeah, I'll win it," was his frank answer.

That's what he said then, but the truth is that Alessandro is not that confident in reality. "Oh, I always complain about something in the races and I'll tell the guys not to go to the front because I'm not feeling so good or something. I never feel secure in a race. Today was a day just like that. The guys were ordered up to the front to start chasing the three guys in the break down to my advantage. I didn't want them to chase, because I didn't feel good, but Ferretti told them to work anyway. I suffered a lot on every little climb, but the manager is always right! He was indeed because he knows that as soon as I see the red flag I forget about my problems and aches, and all I'll think about is the sprint. I must say that this sprint is one of the hardest and best I've done this year, probably the best."

Nothing less could be expected either, from the man who ruled the Giro d'Italia, and he knew that very well. "It feels good to have won this stage because everyone had great expectations on me to do a great Tour, and now I have already been able to demonstrate my strengths on the very first stage. I'm very happy for this victory, and to be able to give it to my team, and I especially would like to dedicated it to signor Paolo Fassa who was very persistent in his attempts to make me ride the Tour. Now that I have won six stages in the Giro and one in the Tour, I'd like to go to the Vuelta and try to win a stage there as well. To win stages in all three grand tours in one year would really be my new dream."

Photo: © Sirotti

With just one kilometre to go of the stage, a crash close to the top of the peloton took out a whole bunch of riders, and Petacchi let fly at the organisation after the race. "Beside being happy for my victory, I'm also a bit sad because my teammate Nicola Loda who had worked really hard to set me up for today's win, was injured in the crash in the last kilometre. During the Giro there were plenty of crashes in the sprints, and that is sort of normal when you are in a big tour and everyone is really nervous."

"I wasn't aware of the crash today at first, because obviously it happened behind me. All the big sprinters escaped unhurt, so I just got on with my race. The finish was very badly planned, and I guess it is a good thing that we all have to wear helmets now, it will be a necessity if the finishes will continue to be like this."

After today's win, Petacchi has gained back half of the seconds he lost in yesterday's prologue, which was no great day for Fassa Bortolo. That means that, in case of another stage win tomorrow, he will be able to add another jersey to his collection. "Ah yes," says Petacchi. "Now you'll write that I'm the greatest sprinter because I'm able to beat riders like McEwen, Zabel and Cipollini, but I wouldn't say a thing like that myself even if I think so. It is up to you to write it. I am a very shy guy."

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