Days after 'retiring', could Alessandro Petacchi be Mark Cavendish's Giro d'Italia leadout?

Gazzetta dello Sport reports Italian sprinter may be answer to Omega Pharma-Quick Step's train troubles

by Simon_MacMichael   April 27, 2013  

Petacchi beats Cavendish in Parma (picture Daniele Badolato, LaPresse, RCS Sport)

Alessandro Petacchi could be set to make an unexpected return to the peloton to act as leadout to Mark Cavendish at Omega Pharma-Quick Step, possibly as soon as the Giro d’Italia which starts a week today in Naples – just days after announcing that he was leaving his Lampre-Merida team with immediate effect.

A statement from the 39-year-old in which he said goodbye to his fans and gave thanks to all those who supported him during his career certainly suggested that he had ridden his final race at the top level.

However, according today's print edition of the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, Omega Pharma-Quick Step believe that Petacchi could be the solution to Cavendish’s dissatisfaction with his leadout train, having failed to up a string of early season successes including the overall in the Tour of Qatar.

The pair have had their differences in the past – notably, following Stage 2 of the 2011 Giro d’Italia, where Cavendish believed Petacchi had failed to hold his line as he beat him to the line in Parma, though the Manxman had the consolation of taking over the maglia rosa from then HTC-Highroad team mate Marco Pinotti.

As Petacchi pointed out, there is a precedent close to home of a once near-unbeatable sprinter dropping down to support a younger rider – he himself benefited from the leadout of the great Erik Zabel towards the end of the latter’s own career, and the German would go on to coach Cavendish at HTC.

While Petacchi told the Gazzetta yesterday that he had not yet had contact from Cavendish’s team, the newspaper says that it has received confirmation from “reliable sources” that Omega Pharma-Quick Step is seriously considering engaging the Italian’s services, if not for the Giro then possibly in time for the Tour de France.

In the 2010 edition of that race, Petacchi completed his set of Grand Tour points jerseys, becoming only the fourth man to do so – were he to ride in the Giro for Omega Pharma-Quick Step, he could be in a position to help Cavendish, a points classification winner in the 2010 Vuelta and 2011 Tour de France but who missed out in last year’s Italian Grand Tour by a solitary point, join that elite club.

6 user comments

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I can see this falling flat on its face. Because he "retired" then Lampre would have torn up his contract and wished him well in the future.

To then turn around a week later and think about signing with another team, Lampre will have the lawyers on speed dial calling in everything, because the will be looking for cash from OPQS

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9039 posts]
27th April 2013 - 18:49

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I was under the impression that the transfer season was at the end of the season, didn't realise you could chop and change mid season ?

Unless of course cos he's retired its different.

Agree with Gkam on this though, Lampre will be doing there dinger if he signs for OPQS.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2845 posts]
27th April 2013 - 20:22

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Unless he has some significant dirt on Lampre that the current investigators might like to be aware of Wink

posted by Nick T [844 posts]
27th April 2013 - 21:02

3 Likes

Nick T wrote:
Unless he has some significant dirt on Lampre that the current investigators might like to be aware of Wink

It could be the other way round with Lampre knowing Petacchi is tainted rider and that they want rid of him..... Thinking Did he jump? Or was he pushed?

Hope something works out for Cav. OPQS are looking like a team of individuals at the moment and something needs to change, though of course riding in the classics it's never going to be a team display like the tour is.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1200 posts]
28th April 2013 - 6:19

1 Like

Can't see any benefit to dropping a tainted rider, if anything you'd want to keep him close to keep tabs, especially if he can still do a job for you. Just because they let him retire into the wilds won't clear the team of any wrongdoing that went on will it.

posted by Nick T [844 posts]
28th April 2013 - 10:59

3 Likes

Gkam84 wrote:
I can see this falling flat on its face. Because he "retired" then Lampre would have torn up his contract and wished him well in the future.

To then turn around a week later and think about signing with another team, Lampre will have the lawyers on speed dial calling in everything, because the will be looking for cash from OPQS

Agreed but OPQS are not exactly short of cash and they could easily settle any claim laid down by Lampre. If anything this works for both parties as Lampre are then shut of a non-winning rider and cashed up whereas OPQS get the best out of their new investment.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
28th April 2013 - 16:15

2 Likes