By Gregor Brown
At 41 years old, Alessandro Petacchi will keep sprinting into 2015 after signing a new deal with the Southeast team.
The Italian was the winner of the 2010 Tour de France green jersey and acted as lead-out man for Mark Cavendish at team Omega Pharma-QuickStep during 2014.
"I still want to race," Petacchi told Italian sports daily, La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The team's competitive, and I think I can give them a hand."
Southeast is a second division, Professional Continental team formerly known as Neri Sottoli. The team still carries the sponsors name on its jersey, which is grey instead of neon yellow for 2015.
The team suffered several doping cases, last year with Matteo Rabottini and in 2013, with Mauro Santambrogio and Danilo Di Luca. Head sports director, Luca Scinto left the team at the end of 2014 saying that he was "disappointed" with the team.
The Tuscany-based team is just around the corner from Petacchi, who lives over the border in Liguria. It will enable Petacchi to race into his 20th professional season and possibly the Giro d’Italia, where he scored so many wins.
Since turning professional in 1996, 'Ale-Jet' collected the 2010 green jersey, the 2005 Milan-San Remo and stages in all three grand tours: 22 in the Giro d'Italia, six in the Tour de France and 20 in the Vuelta a España.
His five stage victories from the 2007 Giro were stricken due to an anti-doping ban in 2008 for asthma inhaler drug, Salbutamol.
Team General Manager Angelo Citracca told Cycling Weekly in October that he wanted to sign Petacchi for his race knowledge and speed. He said that it could be useful for the team's young cyclists like upcoming sprinter and first year professional, Jakub Mareczko.
"Petacchi's got experience, he's a big name and he could help Jakub Mareczko," Citracca explained
"Whether or not he'd help get an invitation for the Giro d'Italia, that's for the organiser to answer, but he'd help with any race invitation, not just the Giro, given his palmarès."
Second division teams must ask for one of the Giro d'Italia's four or five wildcard invitations to race alongside the 17 first division teams, like Sky, that are guaranteed starts. Southeast raced the last four editions under the names Neri Sottoli, Vini Fantini and Yellow Fluo. It will be up against teams Colombia, MTN and others for a 2015 spot.
Petacchi explained that he hopes to race the Giro another time as a good way to end his career. Afterwards, he said that he wants to begin studying to become a sports director.
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