July 05, 2004
Petacchi the Ale-Jet misfiring?
"I can't seem to sprint as I really want to, there's always somebody in the way or something happens," the 30-year-old Fassa Bortolo rider said on Monday.
"I touched the wheel of my team mate in front of me four or five times because other riders tried to push me out of the way, it was incredible."
That, my friend, is what they call bike racing. One of the most incredible things about these sprint finishes is the aggressive jockeying the riders do to get an advantageous position for the sprint.
In the Giro d'Italia, Petacchi's “Silver Train,” the Fassa Bortolo team, would turn up the heat a little at a time until very few riders from other teams could hang, and all the while, Petacchi was sitting in the rocking chair, ready to scorch the last 200 meters.
Here in the Tour, the level of competition is much higher, every team with a strong sprinter has a couple of guys who can hang at almost any speed, and the sprinters themselves are masterful at finding the wheel of opposing sprinters, and using them as a lead-out.
Quoth Robbie McEwen, at Eurosport.com:
"Everybody said at the Giro d'Italia that Alessandro Petacchi couldn't be beaten. But here at the Tour it's a different story. There are a lot of other stronger teams here and they're prepared to go over the top of Fassa Bortolo."
"[Petacchi] is beatable. Everybody's beatable. It just has to be the right circumstances."
Asked to describe his favourite sprinting conditions: "Any sprint I win is one I like."