Italian Alessandro Petacchi, despite turning 38 this January, says that he is ready to take on World Champion Mark Cavendish and his 17th professional season. The goal: punch the air in victory ahead of the rainbow jersey and win the Tour de France’s green jersey for a second time.
“I have an appetite for wins,” Petacchi told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I want to beat Cavendish, [Tyler] Farrar and [Edvald] Boasson Hagen, those who are the younger and more incorrect.”
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Cavendish and Boasson Hagen will both lead team Sky next year. Cavendish, 11 years younger, will come head-to-head with Petacchi in many sprints, likely starting in Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo. They are both past winners of San Remo, Cavendish winning in 2009 and Petacchi in 2005.
Team Lampre’s Petacchi got the better of Cavendish and his rivals twice at the 2010 Tour de France and came away with the green jersey. This year, he seemed to have lost his edge, but said in a press release, “He wants to re-live those emotions from the Tour.”
Petacchi was the first Italian cyclist to win the green jersey since Franco Bitossi 42 years ago, in 1968.
He grew sick of Cavendish after the first sprint stage of this year’s Giro d’Italia. He won the second leg to Parma, but Cavendish, who took the leader’s pink jersey, claimed it was Petacchi sprinted incorrectly.
“He used tactics to block me,” said Cavendish in a post-stage press conference, “but in my life, these are the tactics you use, this is what sprinting is about.”
Cavendish continued and won two times before abandoning the race after the 12th leg in Ravenna. Petacchi, who once won nine stages in a single Giro, saw too much attention focused on his rival.
“Ask me anything you want,” he told Cycling Weekly after a week’s racing, “as long as it’s not about Cavendish.”
After Cavendish won the World Championships in September, Petacchi said that he had an even greater desire to win over the rainbow jersey.
“If I beat him again, it will be an added bonus,” Petacchi explained. “I want to have that photo.”
Petacchi will start his preparations earlier than normal, racing the Tour Down Under for the first time in his career. The race starts on Sunday, January 15 with a criterium. On Tuesday, it continues with six stages through South Australia.
“My motivation for racing in Australia,” he continued in a press release, “is to arrive for Milan-San Remo in great form and with a team that’s functioning perfectly.”
After San Remo, Petacchi wants to be competitive in the Tour of Flanders. He added that he will skip the Giro next year because the team need to rally around Michele Scarponi, who finished second to Alberto Contador this year.