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“I’ve trained so much to be here and be ready to help Tom Boonen and Mark Cavendish. I’m sorry for them. I was here for that and I wanted to do it,” Alessandro Petacchi told Velonews after he was forced to abandon th...

Photo: OPQS / Tim De Waele








21.01.2014 @ 15:03 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

The season’s opening campaign of Mark Cavendish in Argentina faced an unexpected blow, as his main lead-out man Alessandro Petacchi was forced to abandon during the first stage of Tour de San Luis, while ever reliable Mark Renshaw is chasing his own luck at his home ground Down Under.


“It’s disappointing,” Petacchi told VeloNews.


“I’ve trained so much to be here and be ready to help Tom Boonen and Mark Cavendish. I’m sorry for them. I was here for that and I wanted to do it.”


Renowned Italian sprinter, now riding in the support of Mark Cavendish in Omega Pharma-Quick Step, was forced to abandon the season’s opening event at the first stage which took a peloton from San Luis to Villa Mercedes in a searing heat, covering the distance of 166 km.


The 40-year old Petacchi decided to leave the race due to an intestinal virus, which hit several other riders participating in the Tour the San Luis, including event’s big favorite Nairo Quintana.


Petacchi started to suffer from the sickness on Sunday and despite the best efforts from Belgian team’s doctor, he was unable to rest well overnight, prior to the first stage of Tour de San Luis.


“It was hard for ‘Ale’ all day,” sport director David Bramati told VeloNews. “He was feeling bad last night. I was in the room with the doctor and he came by every hour.


“We thought it was good for him to try to race the stage, but after 30 kilometers, he couldn’t really even stay on the bike. At one point, he had goosebumps all over his arms, he had cramps, he was vomiting. He was on his own. What could he do? He couldn’t do 140 kilometers alone.”


Italian sprinter was undecided whether to compete at the start of today’s stage, but an abdominal pain and fever finally forced him to give up as the kilometers were passing by in relentless heat.


“I wasn’t able to say anything to Mark. I wasn’t able to stay in the group I was in so much pain. He went to get me a water bottle but that I couldn’t do it,” Petacchi said.


“I think that was the first time in my career I wasn’t able to stay in the group on the flats.”


Losing Petacchi with his strength and experience is a huge blow to the Belgian team so early in the race, and some of his team mates couldn’t hide their disappointment, while Mark Cavendish refused to comment on the situation.


“It hurts a lot to lose Alessandro,” Boonen said.


“We were already here with six guys, which is at its limit. If you lose Alessandro it’s at five. In a day, you have to sacrifice one to two riders, so you really don’t have anything left and you can’t make any mistakes because if you lose another guy, it just falls apart.”



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